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Huoshan Wild Traditional Yellow Tea

$24.00$56.00

Our western Anhui reconnaissance to explore the last remnants of traditional yellow tea production culture in the remote heritage tea growing region of Huoshan, led us to one of the most righteous small batch tea producers we could have never imagined.

Dasha, a rebel in a sea of producers in Huoshan who left the finicky and unscaleable production of the region's traditional yellow tea behind for the easier and safer green tea production, not only insists on making a variety of traditional teas by the book, she produces them all by hand from 生态 shēngtài ecological gardens her and her team of four manage.  If it sounds unbelievable, her teas might just make you a believer.

Yellow tea is nearly identical in its processing to green tea, except that it experiences an additional "blanket yellowing" 闷黄 mèn huáng either right off the wok while the leaves are hot and moist (湿闷 smèn), or when the leaves have finished drying (干闷 gàn mèn).  This engenders a type of mostly anaerobic flash oxidation — fermentation — to produce the distinctive yellowing.  Oftentimes yellow teas that experience wet yellowing off of the wok will be treated with a brief roasting step to wick away left over moisture and impart a nutty finish.

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Dasha uncovering another larger leafed yellow tea that was dry yellowing during our visit with her, the same as what Miles and Gus sample in this youtube video about this episode of the trip

Dasha produces a variety of yellow teas that can be differentiated by their respective harvest times, tea garden locale, plucking grade, degree (and type) of yellowing, as well as degree of roasting finish.  In the case of this particular yellow tea 1 bud - 2 leaf sets were harvested at 1000 meters  in a feral tea ecology called 天际 Tiānjì "skyrim" on May 2nd using materials from old gardens of tea plants that have been left to grow wild.  After a brief wet yellowing right off the wok, the bud and leaf sets are mostly dry yellowed later, finished with a brief charcoal roast.  The yellowing is medium, significant enough to impart a pleasant funk and rich nuttiness, light enough to be inoffensive to green tea drinkers.  Brew this tea as you would a green tea or delicate young white tea, starting out at 85° or even 90° C.

Huoshan, Dasha, and her gardens

Pristine, remote Huoshan in western Anhui province is part of the Dabie mountain range, historically known as a geographically strategic stronghold for Communist Party of China soldiers led by figures like Deng Xiaoping nearly 100 years ago during its opposition to the Chinese National Party.

as early as the Ming Dynasty, some scholars in the early 1500s were proclaiming Huoshan tea to be the best in the world.  Due to relatively higher latitude (31st parallel north) and altitudes than many other acclaimed tea producing regions, proper Huoshan tea doesn't typically toss its hat in the pre-qingming festival (April 4th) ring, instead producing tea that is on average harvested just before Guyu Grain Rain (April 20th).  The core production region for Huoshan teas is 金鸡山 jīn jī shān "golden rooster mountain" resting at 760 meters, photo taken during our spring 2024 trip below:

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Dasha's tea gardens are not in Jinji proper, but a walk a bit further up from Jinji at 石梁子山 shí liángzi shān (800 meters) the highest village in Jinji, and 天际 Tiānjì "skyrim" mountain at 1000 meters (an hour's walk from Shiliangzi area, inaccessible to cars).  Tianji hosts an incredible scene: non cultivar-specific tea plants simply referred to as 土种 tǔ zhòng "wild variety" or 老品种 lǎo pǐnzhǒng "elder variety", thought to have been originally planted around 100 years ago when Qimen county seeds were brought to the area from southern Anhui.  Today, a community of multiple generations of tea plants all wildly propagated by natural cross pollination and seed dispersal grow on a mountain slope, many in the understory of upland pine, cedar, and bamboo, with some tea specimens taller than the crew Dasha employs to harvest them twice a year.  At Tianji, this is 荒野茶 huāng yě chá Wilderness Tea.

 

Dasha, after studying at several universities came back to Huoshan with the intention of making only the highest quality tea.  Her teas samples are now regularly received by China Tea Academy and Anhui Agricultural University as benchmarks for traditional yellow tea.  She maintains high elevation ecological gardens, refusing to use pesticides and chemical additives.  She drives a small van into the mountains with her harvesting crew, will spend all day hand harvesting to then oversee production with just her and her brother.  This lifestyle doesn't just produce fine tea — she also spends her time wildcrafting herbal medicines and foraged food: honeysuckle, mulberries, wild mushrooms, wild rose petals, and other plants.

It cannot be stated enough: these exquisite small-batches of exceptionally clean and mindfully produced teas are a remarkable feat of a rare dedication to highest quality and authenticity and are a true privilege to experience.  While they're certainly not cheap, we find their nourishment and excellent craftsmanship is well worth the price.  This year Dasha has also produced a Traditional Lu'an Guapian.  We heartily welcome you to try them with us.

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(1 customer review)

One comment on “Huoshan Wild Traditional Yellow Tea”

  1. If the green is a gift and a treasure this tea is beyond words but I will do my best.

    Drinking this tea gives my spirit peace. I felt transported to a time in my life that is so far away and to feel it that close and present in that moment is so priceless it makes me want to cry. It feels like I am drinking the joy and love I have for scything grass and the way my body sings from a day of hard work that I love in the late-summer sun. If it is the joy of work it also feels like the fruits of those labors. To lie down for a nap on a bed of freshly dried hay, with the midday sun shining through the cracks and windows of the barn, warming small patches and lifting that pacifying aroma that makes dreams sweet into the air.

    I truly believe the feeling I get when I drink this tea is only possible if the makers of the tea love what they are doing as much as I did. This tea is everything. If you have beautiful memories of grassy fields in the summer or want to know what that feels like I sincerely with my whole heart invite you to try this tea.

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