ZI RAN REDis 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 Hong, a 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 — unsmokedzhengshan 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]