BRUISERis a dianhong ("Yunnan red", i.e. black tea) from Gedeng shan, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, China, pressed in spring 2022 from material harvested in spring 2020. The tea was hand-plucked from trees aged 150-300 years old (as measured by our producer), making this production "gushu", or "ancient tree". The trees are completely wild-growing in forests on Gedeng Shan ("high land mountain"), are several meters tall, and must be harvested using ladders. The material, plucked at a 1:3-4 (1 bud: 3-4 leaves) standard was processed to black tea via withering, hand-bruising, oxidation, and lastly sun-drying with no roast (important, as sun-drying theoretically leaves the enzymes responsible for aging alive). The loose mao cha ("raw tea"; a term used in Yunnan for finished teas that have not yet been compressed into cakes) was then rested for two years before being briefly steamed to make the leaf pliable, shaping in cloth sacks, and manual compression whereby the shaped tea is stamped between large, heavy stones. The compression is middling, easy to break into with a tea knife, and loose enough to encourage further aging.
Gedeng mountain is one of the 6 "old" famous tea mountains east of the Lancang river in Xishuangbanna (and is also the raw material source of our pressed yue guang bai and huangpian). Teas from Gedeng share the distinctive sweetness of Yiwu-area teas, but with a heartier backbone and high fragrance unique to its terroir. More importantly, our producer, Xiaohui Quan, only uses leaf harvested from very old tea forests on Gedeng, which contribute to this dianhong's luxurious body, persistent huigan ("lingering sweetness"), and notable cha qi ("tea energy"; an unscientific measurement of a tea's chemical makeup and its body effect).
Steep small-format to access layers of complex sugars and candied florals, or grandpa steep (pop 6-7 grams in a mug, top off and steep, drink about 1/3 of the tea (straining any floating leaf with your teeth), top off with hot water, and repeat) for a rich but never abrasive black tea experience.