The popularity of Chinese black tea is soaring these days. To fathom why, we consulted local experts and learned its history; how it is grown, aged, and brewed; and why it is believed to harbor profound and promising health benefits. In Beijing's burgeoning tea salons, Chinese of all ages have new reasons to sip of this ancient tradition.
Chinese Black Teas
Lapsang Souchong (正山小种 or 烟小种):
Is a black tea originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian. It is sometimes referred to as smoked tea (熏茶). Lapsang is distinctive from all other types of tea because lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, taking on a distinctive smoky flavour.
The name in Fukienese means "smoky variety" or more correctly "smoky sub-variety." Lapsang souchong is a member of the Wuyi Bohea family of teas. The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi hills. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the drying process by having their workers dry the tea leaves over fires made from local pines.
Lapsang souchong from the original source is increasingly expensive, as Wuyi is a small area and there is increasing interest in this variety of tea.
Is a black Chinese tea with a winey and fruity taste, designated as a China Famous Tea.
Keemun is produced in the Qimen County of Huangshan City, in Anhui (Anhwei) province. ("Keemun" was the English spelling for "Qimen" during the colonial era.)
Keemun has a relatively short history. It was first produced in 1875 by a failed civil servant, Yu Quianchen, after he traveled to Fujian province to learn the secrets of black tea production. Prior to that, only green tea was made in Anhui. The result exceeded his expectations, and the excellent Keemun tea quickly gained popularity in England, and became the most prominent ingredient of the English Breakfast tea blend.
Keemun Gongfu or Congou (祁門功夫) - Made with careful skill ("gongfu") to produce thin, tight strips without breaking the leaves.
Keemun Mao Feng (祁門毛峰) - A variety, where Mao Feng means Fur Peak, which is made of only slightly twisted leaf buds and is sometimes noted for a smoother and different flavor. Many people prefer to brew a smaller quantity of this tea for a longer time than usual, up to 7 minutes, to bring out more interesting tones in the tea.
Keemun Xin Ya (祁門新芽) - The early bud variety, said to have less bitterness.
Keemun Hao Ya (祁門毫芽) - A variety known for its fine buds, sometimes showing prominent amounts of silver tips, and generally the highest grade. Hao Ya is sometimes graded into A and B, where A is the better grade.
Hubei Keemun (湖北祁門) - Not a true Keemun, a variety that comes from the Hubei Province west of Anhui, said to have similar qualities to the Anhui Keemun.
Dian Hong (滇紅):
Is a Chinese black tea which is used as a relatively high end gourmet black tea and is sometimes used in various tea blends. The main difference between Dian hong and other Chinese black teas is the amount of fine leaf buds, or "golden tips," present in the dried tea. Fermented with lychee, rose and longan, Dian hong teas produces a brew that is brassy golden orange in colour with a sweet, gentle aroma and no astringency. Cheaper varieties of Dian hong produce a darker brownish brew that can be very bitter.
Broken Yunnan (滇紅碎茶; pinyin:diānhóng suì chá): A cheap tea used for blending which contains very few golden buds and is generally bitter on its own. You can spot this tea easily as the dried leaves are largely black in color with only a few bursts of golden tips. The brew is dark and not brassy but reddish-brown. The taste can sometimes be as strong as cooked pu-erh tea. Classified in Orange pekoe grading as BOP.
Yunnan Gold (滇紅工夫茶 or 滇紅; pinyin: diānhóng gōngfū chá): A Dian hong with fewer golden buds and more dark tea leaves. It is on par with the pure gold, and is priced similarly, but makes teas with slightly different characteristics. The brew a brassy red color different from other black teas and a vivid sweetness not quite as intense as "Yunnan pure gold". Classified in Orange pekoe grading from OP to TGFOP.
Yunnan Pure Gold (金芽滇紅; pinyin: jīnyá diānhóng): Considered the best type of Dian hong tea. It contains only golden tips, which are usually covered in fine hairs. When viewed from a distance, the dried tea appears bright orange in colour. The tea liquor is bright red in colour and exhibits a gentle aroma and a sweet taste. The leaves are reddish brown after being brewed. Classified in Orange pekoe grading from TGFOP to SFTGFOP.
Ying De Hong (英徳紅):
Is a black tea from Yingde, Guangdong province, China. First produced mechanically in 1959. The tea tasted good and the best kind is "Ying Hong NO.9", and much of the tea is exported. Some quality varieties are produced, which often look like leaf Oolong.
The tea should have a cocoa-like aroma and like most Chinese black teas a sweet aftertaste.
Jiu Qu Hong Mei (九曲红梅):
A famous but rare gong fu hong cha from Hu Fou, Hang Zhou city, Zhe Jiang Province - Yue Hong Gong Fu, which was created during the 50's. Jiu Qu Hong Mei is also named "Long Jing Hong Cha" as it is from the same producing area than the Xi Hu Long Jing Teas. This red tea holds a tight and thin long stripes with "hooks" on both sides. The color is dark and shiny with rich and deep sweet aroma. It is very pleasent in the mouth, light and smooth followed by a refreshing touch at the end. A very lovely red tea to bediscovered!
Is a unique black tea that original in Yaan,it is a kind of tea brick that has been centuried considered as the most important merchandise between ancient Chinese empire and Tibet Local government. in chinese,the name is "ZangCha",means"Tibetan tea".