Dianhong Jinya (Golden Buds)

Black Tea 2020

Hand picked tea buds that turn a beautiful golden color instead of black due to the rich antioxidants and low level of chlorophyll in the early spring tea buds. Full, sweet flavor with no bitterness and a cocoa powder aroma even when brewed cold. The many-layered buds take great skill to process into black tea.

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Tea Origin
Fengqing County, Lincang City, Yunnan Province, China

Tea Bush
Yunnan Da Ye Zhong (Yunnan Large Leaf Tea Tree)

Tea Master
Bi Wen Lin

Harvest Time
Mid-March

Picking Standard
One bud

The exclusive use of single young tea buds to make Dianhong Jinya (Golden Buds) is highly unusual for a black tea. Because of this, it possesses a very rich aroma that some people say resembles cacao. The flavor is smooth with a delicate sweetness that fills the entire palate. Golden Buds is truly a remarkable tea.

Our Dianhong Jinya comes from the mountain forests of the Baiying region in Yunnan Province. It is harvested when the year’s first tea buds begin to grow in late March or early April. Most black teas are made from leaves that are harvested later in the season, and when oxidized and dried, they appear black in color. Young tea buds, on the other hand, are a beautiful golden color after processing. This is due to the rich antioxidants and lower amount of chlorophyll contained in the young growth. The fine fuzzy hairs on each bud are a testament to the tea maker’s skillful handling of the leaves without breaking them off.

The challenge of oxidizing black tea buds

The Fengqing Tea Company first produced Jinya in 1958. Instead of the usual slightly more mature 1 bud to 2-3 leaf pluckings, they started making black tea with only tea buds. Yunnan Province was the first place to make black tea with leaf material this young. However, processing tea buds into a black tea requires an immense amount of skill to produce a good tea. If left on the tea bush, healthy tea buds will open five or six tea leaves. The tea master must carefully control the oxidation process through every layer of the bud. Black tea that is over-oxidized will be sour, and if under-oxidized, the tea will be heavy and tannic. But with just the right touch and technique, black teas like Dian Hong Jin Ya emerge from the process with an exquisite rich aroma and a sweet and smooth flavor.

Harvest and processing of Dian Hong Jin Ya

Our Dianhong Jinya uses fresh leaves from the mountain that surrounds Fengqing County and Yun County. The buds are harvested at the end of March. The tea master will spread a thin and even layer of fresh picked tea buds on a bamboo tray to breathe for 3-5 hours. They are then placed in a wind tunnel made from woven wood or bamboo. Fans will blow air through the tunnel to wither the leaves for about 5-6 hours. The tea master will then fry the leaves by hand to remove about half of their water content. The tea is then wrapped in fabric and placed in wooden boxes covered with a thick piece of fabric to keep the buds warm. This will oxidize the tea in a natural fashion. The tea master must check the tea buds often. He has to mix the tea together to give even heat to the buds.  A tea master manually judges when to arrest the oxidation process. He does this by squeezing and smelling the tea, judging the tea by his nose and hands. This is an extremely key step of the process and must be carefully controlled in order to develop the tea’s aroma and make sure the taste is sweet, smooth and without any grassy flavor of unoxidized tea leaves.

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 diverse bounty of tea plants growing, some of them very old. They set up a factory and began to produce large quantities of tea. The Dian Hong company remains a large center of tea production and research in Yunnan today.

No chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.

Dianhong Jinya (Golden Buds) brewing guidelines

Teaware: 12 oz. glass, porcelain, or yi xing clay pot
Amount: 1 Tbs of tea leaves
Water: boiling filtered water
Infusion: First infusion at least 3 minutes. The leaves are good for 6 infusions. Add a little more time for each subsequent infusion.