notes— mineral water | light roast coffee | silken
PANLAN ROBE is a yancha ("rock tea") from the outer Wuyi mountain range of Fujian province, China. This lot is a Da Hong Pao, or "Big Red Robe" production. Like dancong, most yancha are named per the cultivar used to produce them (the only major processing differences are in oxidation level and roast intensity). But big red robe is a processing style more than anything—typically a blend of rou gui ("cassia") and shui xian ("water sprite") cultivars, with a smaller proportion of cultivars tea makers often don't divulge. This is an artform called "pin pei" ("blend / put together), and is not unlike pu'er blending. Still, we're not fans of secret recipes in tea—PANLAN ROBE is a blend of rou gui (85%) and shui xian (15%) with an oxidation slightly lower than traditional da hong pao (note the lighter brown vs purple-black of some DHP) and a generous roast (low heat for 10-12 hours in 2 rounds).
Panlan is the name of a remote mountain town outside Yong'an City, on the southern edges of the Wuyi range. Here, Panlan tea garden produces yancha on the rocky slopes of Dafeng Mountain. The garden spans zones at 900-1,200 meters elevation (tea grown in Wuyi park tops out around 800 meters), and is made up of middle-aged tea trees (50-60 years) amongst sparse older trees. Springs flowing on Dafeng mountain irrigate the tea fields, and contribute to this tea's abundant Yan Yun ("Rock Quality"; a detectable minerality in yancha).
Panlan garden yancha is considered zhoucha, or "island tea"—tea grown on the outskirts of the Wuyi mountain range in all directions. Relative to zhengyan ("proper rock"—tea grown in Wuyi national park) and banyan ("half rock"—tea grown in regions just outside the park) teas, zhoucha is deeply undervalued due to the Chinese penchant for tea with pedigree. For us, that means better tea (without the "brand name" to pull weight, these farmers work harder to produce exceptional tea) at a fairer price (that we pass on to you). There's also zero chance of counterfeit—banyan teas, for instance, are routinely passed off as zhengyan for astronomical markups.
What makes Panlan special is producer Shan Zhong. Originally from Panlan, Shan returned from Yong'an city twenty years ago to organize his townspeople into yancha makers in response to a surge in popularity of da hong pao. This effort lifted dozens of farming families out of poverty. Today, Shan's gardens are fully biodynamic, and throughout Panlan all types of yancha (and some black teas) are made using old-world Wuyi techniques to astounding effect. PANLAN ROBE is our homage to this very special place.