Black Tea 2019
A popular black tea with the characteristic Yunnan full flavor and long floral finish. Brews bright red and strong enough to take milk or sugar, but nuanced enough to be appreciated on its own. Large leaves are left whole instead of chopped, good for brewing hot or cold. ‘Gongfu’ refers to being made with skill and effort.
- Tea Origin
- Fengqing County, Lincang City, Yunnan Province, China
- Tea Bush
- Yunnan Dayezhong (Yunnan Large Leaf Tea Tree)
- Harvest Time
Dianhong Gongfu is one of our most popular everyday grades of organic black tea. The name “Gongfu,” in the specific context of tea leaves, refers to the time consuming production of mostly whole leaf black tea. Gongfu is not to be confused with kung fu the martial art, but has a similar meaning in the sense of the practice and discipline it takes to improve skill. While its history is short compared to other black teas, it has become very popular for its rich full bodied flavor and fresh sweet aroma. The large leaves of Dianhong Gongfu brew to a bright red cup with strong enough flavor to take milk or sugar, but nuanced enough to be appreciated on its own.
Our Dianhong Gongfu is the best grade, made from un-chopped leaves that will ensure the brew yields no bitter flavor. While most commodity black teas are a blend of chopped leaves harvested throughout the growing season, our specialty grade Dianhong Gongfu is made from young spring leaves. We purchase these spring leaves in late April before they go through the blending and chopping process. Though the highly efficient machine plucking method of harvesting does break a few leaves, selecting the spring harvest and not chopping the leaves results in a good quality everyday black tea that is made of mostly whole leaves with some broken pieces. This creates a spicy aroma and lingering flavor, characteristic of Yunnan’s large leaf tea plants. Mix this tea with herbs and dried fruit or enjoy as an iced tea in the summertime.
Making Dianhong Gongfu black tea
This tea grows at an elevation of 600-800 meters above sea level. Harvest occurs the middle of April, with a plucking standard of 1 bud and 2-3 tender leaves. Fresh tea leaves will be carried back to the factory where they are left to wither in the shade or under sunshine for a few hours to lose some of their moisture. After the leaves have been softened a bit, they are placed in a special wind tunnel made from woven bamboo or wood to wither further. The tunnel is about 3 feet tall and has three layers of bamboo with holes for wind to travel through. The leaves are set on the top sheet of bamboo for around 5 hours to remove about 50% of their moisture.
After withering, tea makers will fire the tea in a hot rolling machine to soften the leaves before they are kneaded. This is done quickly yet carefully, so as not to denature the enzymes in the leaf that will drive its oxidation. A kneading machine squeezes out even more moisture and spurs on oxidation of the leaves. After this, large quantities of tea are placed in a large wooden box, covered with fabric, and lightly sprayed with pure filtered water. In Yunnan’s warm climate, the tea can be left to oxidize slowly overnight without adding any artificial heat. This slowly finishes the oxidation process. During this time, the tea master will check the leaves every so often to mix and distribute their heat and also check the quality of their aroma and color. When the leaves have just turned from green to brown, the tea master will stop oxidation and send the tea to the oven to dry. They must be very careful to not over-oxidize the tea, otherwise it will turn sour. After the tea has been dried in the oven, the leaves are sorted by hand to remove untwisted large leaves and sprigs.
History of black tea in Yunnan
Yunnan Province began producing black tea in 1939. The Chinese wanted to move the business of exporting tea out of the east coast of China (then occupied by the Japanese Army) to the border of Burma in Yunnan. Two accomplished tea masters, Feng Shaoqiu and Fan Hejun, went to Yunnan to research the area for tea cultivation. They found that Fengqing County in southwest Yunnan was an ideal place to start producing good quality tea. The soil in this area is red in color and nutrient rich, and already had a good number of tea plants growing. They set up a factory and began to produce large quantities of tea. The Dianhong company remains a large center of tea production and research in Yunnan today.
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.