Yellow tea and a micro-lot three generations in the making.

Newsletter Archive May 21, 2021

An older woman in an apron kneading tea leaves on a woven bamboo tray while a young woman holds the tray steady for her.
Tea master Wang Xiangzhen working with her granddaughter Zhang Xiaonan, teaching her the technique for kneading tea leaves.

The wind-blown hills of Moganshan were once a hideout for mythic swordsmiths, gangsters, and even Mao Zedong. Today, they’re home to the Zhao family tea farm. Here, three generations of female tea makers work together: Grandmother Wang Xiangzhen, Daughter Zhao Xianqin, and Granddaughter Zhang Xiaonan. The lives (and the life of their tea farm) span a period of enormous transformation for their industry, their country, and for women in their society. Each generation brings their own talents and experiences, but one thing is constant: the family tradition of making really, really good tea.

2021’s harvest of the Zhao family’s renowned yellow tea, Mogan Huangya (Mogan Yellow Buds) just arrived. This rare tea is especially dark, but gentle as ever. Thick with aromas both aetherial and floral: beeswax, honey, sandalwood. The Zhao family revived this style by learning the processing techniques used in Junshan Yinzhen and then applying it to their remote Moganshan garden, making leaves that are soft and tiny but mighty.

Two glass pitchers of tea on an old wooden desk, one brewing green tea and one yellow.
Yu Qian Mogan Green (top) brewed side by side with Mogan Huangya (bottom).

They make those same leaves into a green tea, too. This year we purchased a small lot of it to share: Welcome Yu Qian Mogan Green, plucked just one month ago, in the heart of the spring. Its tiny leaves are surprisingly powerful for a green tea from this early in the season. Sweet spring meadow aromatics layer over savory fruit and delicate mineral astringency.

We’re excited to bring this special tea as the first in a series of micro-lot teas. Last year, we experimented with selling one-off “micro-lots” of teas we thought were special, unusual, and maybe even a bit of a risk to bring in. It went better than we could have imagined and your feedback helped make a few of them permanent fixtures in our catalog. This year, we’re looking forward to bringing in more and continuing the conversation with you.

As for this micro-lot of Yu Qian Mogan Green, the Zhao family is already sold out of this tea, so once it’s gone, it’s gone for the year at least.

A small garden full of low tea bushes is framed by rows of tall trees, with the near peak of the mountain rising in the background.
The organic mountaintop tea gardens on the peak of Moganshan.

In Chinese there’s a saying for a very specific kind of good fortune, one too often taken for granted. 三代同堂 sāndàitóngtáng, refers to a state when three generations of a family live at the same time, their lives enriched by the growth and wisdom of the others. This is a precious time in our lives, if and when we have it. The Zhao family is fortunate, both as a family and as tea makers, and we are privileged to share in the tea that comes from this special time.