Teas from generational divide (and unity): The Zhang family’s Anxi wulong

Newsletter Archive Mar. 18, 2022

A man kneeling behind his young daughter in the garden.
Anxi wulong maker Zhang Qingmu and his daughter.

This weekend we’re featuring Jin Guanyin (Golden Guanyin) and Chuantong Tieguanyin (Traditional Tieguanyin), two wulong teas that straddle styles and generations.

When Austin first met Zhang Qingmu, Zhang was fresh out of college and working to promote his uncle and father’s Tieguanyin wulong tea on the wholesale market. Today, Mr. Zhang is a tea maker and a father himself, taking up the reins of the family business as the new generation.

Tea from the Zhang family’s land in Tangdi village has changed over the generations as well. There was even a period of extreme hardship in the 1980s when the family had to abandon growing tea altogether to plant more lucrative crops. Fortunately, the Zhang family was able to return to tea in the 1990s, starting with fresh plantings of the genuine Hongxin (Red Heart) Tieguanyin cultivar native to Anxi County.

Close up of a sprig of Red Heart Hongxin Tieguanyin, showing the characteristic red on the smallest leaf.
The “Red Heart” Hongxin Tieguanyin cultivar’s signature red inner leaf on the spring growth.

By the early 2000s, when Seven Cups first started sourcing from the Zhang family, their high-elevation gardens were already producing sweet and fragrant leaves that they mostly processed into the tightly rolled and lightly roasted “modern” style of Tieguanyin, like Golden Guanyin. As Mr. Zhang has come into his own as a tea maker of the new generation, the Zhangs are looking back as well as forward – they’ve recently put their knowledge of older traditional styles back into production with their darkly roasted and gently rolled Traditional Tieguanyin – as well as the sun-withered white tea from their Tieguanyin bushes.

Don’t miss this chance to taste the intergenerational brilliance of the Zhang family’s wulong.

anxi tangdi zhuping in organic tea garden 2008
Zhuping trying the leaves during a visit to the Zhang family’s organic Anxi tea gardens back in 2008.

Spring Tea Update

Spring is officially here as we hit the equinox this weekend, but the spring tea season is already weeks underway. We’ve purchased the first teas of 2022, but their export must wait until China’s coastal-shipping hubs can return from pandemic lockdown and reorganization. There is hope that shipments will begin moving again with the new week. If so, our usual premier of spring teas in the first weeks of April won’t slow too far off schedule. We look forward to bringing you the first teas of the season as soon as possible.