Anji Hong

Organic Black Tea 2021

New and unconventional black tea with malted grain aromatics and mellow fruit-like body with honeyed sweetness. Anji Hong is made using the same amino acid-rich cultivar as Anji Baicha green tea.

The 2021 crop of Anji Hong remains consistent in character with the sweet and mellow black tea you met last year. Demand was so strong for this tea that we added it to our regular catalog.

Clear selection

Tea Origin
Anji County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China

Tea Bush
Baiye #1 (White Leaf #1)

Tea Master
Yu Shunhu

Harvest Time
Early April

Picking Standard
One bud, two leaves

For years, the pale jade leaves of Anji Baicha green tea have been a staple in our catalog with their springy floral lightness and rich amino acid content. Now, you can see how these flavors transform when the same leaves are processed into the stunning Anji Hong black tea. Under oxidation, the unique character of the Baiye #1 tea bush cultivar develops into a rosy-amber brew with a sweet aromas reminiscent of malt, honey and molasses. Longer infusions deepen the flavor into the darker and fruitier register, but Anji Hong remains uncharacteristically delicate for a black tea.
Anji Hong is harvested about the same time as its sister green tea Yu Qian Anji Baicha, plucked as one bud with two young leaves. Both come from the exact same Baiye #1 cultivar tea bushes. The difference lies entirely in the processing techniques that turn the tea either into a green or a black. As an unconventional high-end black tea, Anji Hong has more in common with the sweet complexity of other rare high-end black teas like Old Tree Yunnan (Laoshu Dianhong) or Qimen Caixia (Sunrise Keemun), but possesses a softer character that’s all its own.

The unique character of Anji Hong’s tea cultivar

Pale Anji Baicha leaves growing on the tea bush.
Leaves from the slightly later second harvest period of the spring (Yu Qian) translate to a richer flavor when made into a black tea.

The pale jade leaves of Baiye #1 are unique in their high amino acid content, which contributes to the sweetness and calming effect of their infusion. Some studies have estimated that Baiye #1 leaves contain approximately three to five times the amount of amino acid found in other varieties. The leaves are at the lightest in color and richest in amino acids the early spring, before temperatures climb above 25 degrees Celsius. Once the temperature warms beyond this point, the leaves become noticeably greener and have changed in flavor. Therefore, there is only a spring harvest of Baiye #1.

Regardless of their processing, Baiye #1 leaves tend to make very delicate tea. We selected slightly more mature leaves from later in the spring for Anji Hong, grown to one bud and two leaves. Leaves at this stage of growth have a more substantial body that lends itself well to black tea while still expressing the unique character of the cultivar.

Recent changes in black tea production in China

Side by side comparison of Anji Bai Cha dry leaves, both black tea and green tea.
Anji black tea (above) and green Anji Baicha (below).

Although Chinese black tea was historically produced as a commodity export, recent years have seen a domestic increase in popularity of high-end black teas made to the same kinds of exacting specifications as the finest Chinese greens. As a result, many producers have begun making black tea versions of their own green teas. Anji Hong is one outcome of this trend and first appeared on the tea market in the 2010’s. “Anji” refers to the tea’s provenance in Anji county in Zhejiang province and “hong”, meaning “red”, indicates the processing style. Note the Chinese hongcha (lit. “red tea”) is translated into English as “black tea.”

The long history of Anji Baicha green tea

The Anji Baicha green tea mother bush growing on a hillside, with a stone marker plaque placed in front of it.
The Anji Baicha green tea mother bush, estimated over 300 years old.

This tea’s history extends at least as far back at the Song Dynasty with the famous emperor Song Huizhong (1082-1135). Renowned both as an artist and as an ardent tea lover, he wrote a book about tea and devoted an entire chapter to the pale tea leaves of “Baicha.” In addition, Lu Yu (733–804) the famous tea sage and writer of the world’s first book on tea during the Tang Dynasty, described the Anji area where it originates as a treasure of tea. However, he did not mention a specific tea or source. It took 900 years for tea scholars and tea masters to put the two together to realize they were talking about the same tea, and discover the still living Baicha bushes in Anji.

It has taken since 1980 to propagate enough tea plants from these bushes to have a commercial crop. Since then, Anji Bai Cha has become the most sought after green tea today due to its limited production and extensive history in the tea world. All Baicha bushes today are descended from two mother bushes, only one of which is still living. The remaining mother bush is estimated to be over 300 years old and its place on the mountain side has now become something of a destination for devoted Chinese tea drinkers.

No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.

 

 

Anji Hong brewing guidelines

5 grams (1.5 Tb) tea

12 oz 100°C (212ºF) water

4 min. first infusion

At least 4 infusions: 4, 4, 5, 8 minutes