Tibetan Hei Cha Ya Xi (Fine Bud) Grade

Tea type
Black Tea
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Earth, Marine, Wood, Mineral, Mushrooms, Wet Moss, Dark Wood, Metallic, Raisins, Roasted, Sweet, Tobacco, Wet Wood
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Edit tea info Last updated by cultureflip
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 5 oz / 143 ml

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From Life In Teacup

Hei Cha, literally meaning “black tea” in Chinese, is produced in Hunan, Sichuan and a few other provinces and has supplied to Tibet, Mongolia and other Northwestern ethnic groups since the 7th century.

One of the highest grade Tibetan tea. In traditional Tibetan society, it was exclusively for royal families, Lamas and affluent merchants. The tea leaves are from all natural environment of above 1000m (3000 ft.) elevation. The tea is processed with tedious, traditional procedure of more than 32 steps, and wrapped in hand-woven bamboo encasing.

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11 Tasting Notes

6770 tasting notes

I have been thinking about Tibet and the Lama lately and thought I would sip this in their honor.

When piping hot this tastes like a pu-erh but as it cools for just a few moments it’s like a blend of both worlds both worlds of pu-erh and black tea. I am enjoying it more once it has had a chance to cool a bit.

It did smell earthy pu-erh like prior to infusing and now that I am drinking it – it has a lovely hint of sweet. It’s a tad malty but smoother that I thought it would be. This is pretty good!

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144 tasting notes

After the epic letdown that was RIshi’s Osmanthus Silver Needle it is nice to be pleasantly surprised by the the quality of a tea, especially one which is, to me, uncharted territory.

The wet aroma is delicious and pungently earthy. It smells alive and welcoming with notes of wilted florals and virile soil. Everything about this tea is soft and striking. The mouthfeel is thick and coats the tongue with a low buttery “sweetness” that is not typically sweet yet not exactly savory either. Can it be the ever so elusive and ambiguous “umami” quality? Truly a rare species to behold especially in such a seemingly unlikely habitat. The woody malt sits heavily on the palate and a wet wood hui gan fills the throat leaving a lingering dark, nutty flavor in the mouth.

It is lighter, more complex and with a taste more like “tea” than most shu puer though with some overbrewing there can be a similar wo dui or piled fermentation greasy taste. It’s also softer and more pastoral in taste than typical Yunnan red teas. I know I’ve never had a tea from Sichuan before so this one stands out as unique to me.

And check this out: a 200 gram hand-woven bamboo package of this is, wait for it . . . $28.

Read more here: http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2011/03/tibetan-hei-cha-ya-xi-grade.html

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68 tasting notes

From Dark Matter 2016:

Near boiling water, gaiwan, rinsed once, steeped starting at 5 seconds and increasing.

I love the large leaves on this. I grabbed one out that was longer than my pinky. The tea brews to shades of dark dusky amber never getting truely dark. I found the flavor to be rather subtle, not in a bad way just not what I was expecting. It stated with a bit of briney flavor and a few steeps in had a nice earthy funk. Got some woody and mineral flavors in later steeps and some sweetness at the end. Pretty refined for something with both “Tibetan” and “Hei Cha” in the name.

Flavors: Earth, Marine, Wood

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90 tasting notes

Dark Matter 2016

Pretty good. Deep Earth. Really picked up after steep 5 (increased temperature to near boiling, longer steeps at 20 seconds). 80/100.


PS. Got pretty tea drunk.

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365 tasting notes

I like heicha on cloudy days, so the weather told me that it’s time to drink this tea. The brick is lightly compressed consisting of brittle twigs and black leaves. The little guy had a fragrant aroma of dry mahogany, slight grassy tones, and some musk in the background. I warmed up my gaiwan and placed a chunk inside. The scent deepened to a wet forest moss, some tobacco, and a sweet raisin undertone. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste began as very sweet with some light spiciness, A heavy wood base lifted these flavors up and crafted a soothing heavy brew. The brew became slightly more sweet and an underlying roasted tone became apparent in later steeping. This tea was a very easy drinker, but it lacked any complexity or deep character. The brew finishes with a quick drop off to mineral tones alike copper, iron, and dry stone. The drink in it’s red liquor form and metallic taste reminded me a little of blood… Anyways, hahah, it was a good drinker, and for the right price I could see it as a nice rainy day brew; however, I’ll learn next time to not push the tea so far into the vampiric territory.

Flavors: Dark Wood, Metallic, Mineral, Raisins, Roasted, Sweet, Tobacco, Wet Moss

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

…and suddenly after this tea and for no reason I began to crave Anne Rice novels.

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76 tasting notes

With around 6g of beautiful chocolate chunk, a 150ml celadon gaiwan with boiling temperatures, one quick rinse and 10-15s infusions counting up for about a dozen times before one last 2m steep of happiness. This is such a smooth hei cha with a milky mouthfeel and enough cha qi to push you right into happy town. Beautiful large leaf and a dark orange liquor and sweet bamboo flavor notes. Great tingling sensation on the tongue. Traditional methods often add dairy and sugar or salt but personally I love this just the way it is. One of my favorites from Dark Matter 2016.


Boiling 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

Wait, did you brew the ENTIRE sample at once? Wow, that’s brave!
And I see it didn’t kill you yet :) That’s good news.


Chuckles, yes I did. I tend to use ample chunks/leaf with most of my hei cha and pu-erh as well. It was awesome and no, not dead yet. Grin


I just followed instructions on their website to use .5g per 1 oz of water for gongfu brewing… And I swear to God, this Tibetan brick will come back to me in my nightmares :)))

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45 tasting notes

This is the second tea I’ve tried from the dark matter group buy!

I’m sad that this tea has an under-eighties average, because I think it deserves better than that. Hopefully the average will rise as it gets more reviews. I like it. It has a light, refined, sweetish flavor and is still distinctly post-fermented. I have no idea if I steeped it correctly or not, of course. I just used almost-boiling water, watched the leaves unfurl for a minute or two, then decided it was time to drink it, lol.


I had this tea 4-5 years ago. I can see how it would rated lower, when I had it had lots of potential but it was still a rougher steep. If you have enough of this tea. Put some away so you can try it a year from now and even in two years. it will continue to get smoother and sometimes thicker. :D

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14 tasting notes

Hiya! Puerh Noob reporting in.. but in this case it should be Hei Cha Noob :P This is the first tea I chose to try from LP’s Dark Matter Group buy. It’s also my first Hei Cha! Whee! Excited and a little scared with not knowing what to expect other than it’s different from puerh.

7 or 8 steeps in and I know I’m going to have to revisit this tea, originally I didn’t think the flavor changed to big extent, but upon further reflection as I stare into my tea cup making mouth smacking sounds… I have to accept that this tea has just been very sneakily morphing it’s flavor profile through the steeps. I’ve noticed the change in scent more than in the flavor of the tea.. but it’s there… yes it is…

Scent wise my first cup made me think of a light roasted oolong – last cups the scent is much more marine like (meh, me no likey marine stuff).

Sooo this tea sorta confounds me (in a good way.) The first taste that i get is like the scent of fresh lumber from a hardware store, which in my book isn’t bad.. after all I’ve been drinking and liking puerh that tastes like dark damp wood and earth. What has COMPLETELY distracted me from the aforementioned subtle flavor morphing is how I’m experiencing this tea…Sounds crazy but this is a fast tea… It hits with the fresh lumber flavor and bam that gone and I’m hit with a really high pitched sweet experience, like an artificial sweetener, but then that disappears and I’m left with a pretty clean palette and my mouth is left salivating for more.. W. T. F???

10/11 steeps in – yes, I’m floating and starting to visit the bathroom alot.. gah.. I want a bigger bladder installed?? And I’m getting lazy soo other points of interest for me:

Steep 3 – added milk, was pleasantly surprised, milk goes very nicely with this, I’d do it again if I were in a milky tea mood. (I’ve tried to add milk to some shu and not been successful with that.)

The marine flavor is definitely getting stronger and deepening the wood flavor, so the flavor starts as a darker wood, super sweet bam and then a very faint nori end flavor that morphs into a lingering sweet/savory feeling in the mouth that lasts quite a while.

This tea is making me think waaaaaaay too hard, I’ve tossed the leaves that I’ve used into a mason jar since I think they still have alot of flavor to them and Life In a Teacup mentions that Tibetans like to drink the brew the next day.. not sure if they drink it cold or hot, but I like cold tea so I’m going to try it. :)

I’ve found that puerh lets me eat onions and things I’m not supposed to eat, without having to take an antacid with my meals… crossing my fingers that hei cha will do the same thing for my digestion and that I won’t wake up in the middle of the night in pain. Yes, I’m willing to live dangerously and be a guinea pig test subject. Will edit this with my results.

Would I recommend this? I think this is interesting, so yes. Would I buy it… that I’m on the fence about, only because I’m not a fan of marine-ish notes in my tea, though somehow I find this works and it’s not over the top. Based on steeps 1-7 or so? I was definitely interested, it’s the later steeps that are making me think harder about wanting more. Thankfully I can have another session with the sample I have to better evaluate how I feel. :D

Flavors: Marine, Sweet, Wet Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

Excellent review!


Really enjoyed this review. Made me want to drink this all day long. Thanks! :-D


Maybe I’ll visit this one next :) I had a similar experience with the 2010 Bai Sha Xi Tian Jian – First 7-8 steeps were awesome, then the last few made me think twice about whether I’d buy it.

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34 tasting notes

When first starting to steep it gave off an earthy scent like a ripe puer. After about a minute of steeping it has a strong mineral taste along with the earth. The tea has a very strong thickness to it.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 7 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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3233 tasting notes

Another Hei Cha, this one from Life in Teacup.
The main flavor here is a wood taste, some maltiness, & it reminds me somewhat of a ripe pu-erh, especially after a couple steeps when a minty kind of sensation in my throat developed.

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