Sweet Tips of Simao, from Yunnan Province in southwest China is the latest in our series of incredible Yunnan black teas for 2012. Call us crazy, but we have been unable to pass on very many of the delicious teas that have come out of this historic tea-producing area over the last several years. Years ago, it was exciting to have one type of Yunnan black tea – and we did, because we are big fans of the teas that come from this beautifully diverse and tea-friendly region. But over the last five years or so, as the Yunnan Pu-erh speculation has waned, many of the tea artisans who live and work in Yunnan have returned to making their incredible black, white, green, and specialty teas. And we are happy about that!
This black tea is from the Simao region – one that is known to Pu-erh lovers as a very high grade growing region for complex, old-style China bush leaf. Whether harvested from old plantings or new, the leaf from this region is special due to the unique terroir that Simao has.
This is the least Yunnan-like of our current line-up of Yunnan black teas. We say that with positive overtones, because while we love the inherent flavor that Yunnan tea has, there is so much variety in the leaf produced there that we feel it unfortunate that this dissimilar leaf has until recently been tasted mostly in a few unusual Pu-erh pressings.
This black tea has undertones of a Himalaya black tea – it is very smooth and clean. It has the straight-forwardness of some eastern China china bush teas, but without the winey, strident flavor profile that usually signals an eastern China black tea. This incredible Yunnan tea has similarities with a Darjeeling 2nd Flush tea in that it has a focused and direct flavor. There are some caramel notes that typify a Yunnan black tea and also a touch of cinnamon that show a well-controlled, and modest oxidation. This Sweet Tips of Simao Yunnan black tea is likely the least typical of the Yunnan blacks that we have ever offered, but we think that this year’s Simao harvest is stellar and worthy of our attention. If you appreciate the Wuyi rock oolongs such as Rou Gui, with its spicy, cinnamon-dry finish then you will love this tea. Make no mistake, this tea is full-bodied, it is just very complex in the top-notes, and will accept most any preparation and style of serving. If you want to enjoy the classic dian hong Yunnan caramel-honeyed black tea flavor then this is not the tea for you. However, if you are interested in stretching a little and trying a tea that is totally unique, this tea is it!
Measurement of these small buds is not challenging at all. As with many Yunnan black teas, this leaf may be re-steeped with fresh water (especially for iced tea) depending on the length of time of the first steeping.