GAO WENis our flagship black tea from central Yunnan province, China. A dianhong ("Yunnan red") production from da ye ("big leaf") cultivar bushes, this lot is distinguished by a unique processing step atypical of most dianhong production: several rounds of high-heat roasting to finish. Through on-site collaboration with the tea makers of Ma Wei Shan, we developed this process to smooth out the bright fruit notes of dianhong in favor of the malty and complex floral qualities older tree Yunnan black tea is lauded for. The result is an ideal breakfast tea we'll bring back year after year (Yunnan weather pending).
Our annual dinahong is produced in late spring from high-mountain rows of young tea trees. Ma Wei Shan, situated just outside Simao, is foremost a pu'er producer—like their sheng productions, their dianhong is produced with a mix of tips and 2-3 leaves down the shoot that are hand-plucked, sorted, withered in the sun, snail-rolled and bruised to high oxidation, and twice baked to dry. The final bake, at 500ºF, is a process we developed in partnership with the factory to accentuate the material's malty sweetness. Earlier in the spring, the same garden's buds and first 1-2 leaves are used to produce our annual yue guang bai.
On the mountain, our producers steep a healthy pinch for a few seconds at a time, coaxing out roses, cherries, and deep sweetness. Push this tea for 2-3 minutes with water just off the boil for a classic black tea profile of malt and roast. Excellent candidate for jianshui zitao (purple clay) teapot seasoning.
Scroll to the bottom for field manager Yuanzhen's thoughts on organic cultivation (and Ma Wei Shan's poultry economy).