ZI RAN RED | black

notes raisin | mulling spices | full

ZI RAN RED is an unsmoked zhengshan xiaozhong—or, lapsang souchong—production from Tongmu, Fujian province, China. Like ZI RAN SMOKE, this lot comes to us from Zi Ran Honga centuries-old smokehouse about 4 hours from Wuyi national park. For this production, the smokehouse, or qing lou ("green house", where lapsang is smoked with pine wood) was irrelevant; this is a modernist unsmoked lot. Save the smoking, this hong cha ("red tea") is produced identically to its smoked cousin: hand-plucked from wild-growing xingcun xiaozhong cultivar trees, withered, hand-rolled in cloth, and left to oxidize fully in bamboo baskets with no yaoxing ("shaking"—a process that accelerates oxidation).

Tongmuguan, where ZI RAN HONG has operated for 3 generations, has been a protected UNESCO site since 1979. The pine forests are nationally protected, with imposed limits on how much can be harvested. All the land in Tongmu is accounted for by long-time residents—Zi Ran Hong is in its third generation of tea making. Without sponsorship from a resident, tourists are not permitted in the preserve. Our ongoing partnership with Zhao Cong at Zi Ran Hong grants us rare access to one of Fujian's best-protected treasures.

The lack of pine wood smoking offers a unique glimpse into the natural character of Tongmu tea. The dry leaf offers a mulling spice musk, with the steeped tea giving raisins and dates wrapped in a drying—but not tannic—body. Steep aggressively, and alongside the same tea, but smoked, for the full lapsang souchong experience.

vintage — spring '22
style — unsmoked zhengshan xiaozhong ("mountain small leaf")
cultivar — xingcun xiaozhong
region — Tongmu, Fujian, China
locale — Zi Ran Hong tea farm
elevation — 1300 meters
producer — Zhao Cong
nomenclature — Zi Ran (自然)—"natural" | Hong (红)—"red"


(use freshly boiled spring water)

modern, large format
[300 ml+ vessel — BOLI, large teapot]

4 grams — 208°F (98°C) — 2 minutes

traditional, small format
[150 ml- vessel — gaiwan, small teapot]

5 grams — 208°F (98°C) — 15 seconds (rinse optional)
+10-15 seconds each additional steep