This tea is as close to the embodiment of the true “Yiwu taste” as we can press. It has a gentle and soft character, with a pleasant fragrance and honey-like sweetness. Fruit-notes tend to develop within the first year, with a smooth honey taste returning after that.
Made from the same material as our annual Year of the Monkey/Rooster/Dog cakes, this tea is one of the more predictable ones for us as each production is quite stable year after year. One difference for 2019 is that we’ve strayed from the “traditional” compression of previous years and gone a little bit lighter this time around.
We strongly recommend this tea for beginners, as it is quite gentle and easy to accept, with minimal bitterness and a budget-friendly price. Experienced drinkers seeking a quality Yiwu zhengshan tea can also enjoy this as a daily drinker or for storing away for the future.
The material used for this tea comes from converted fangyang (放养, or “left to grow”) trees that started off as plantation terrace trees over 40 years ago. For over a decade, these trees have seen no pesticides, weed killer, pruning or fertilizers, and have only been picked during the spring.
This style of farming does come with some sacrifices though. As the trees compete for space, some require relocation (with varying success). There is also reduced output and laborious hand-weeding over the course of a month each year.
In our opinion, the results are worth it. The deeper roots and more concentrated yield produce a tea richer in fragrance and flavour than typical plantation productions in this price range. And of course, all this without the presence of any pesticides or harmful substances.
In previous years we tested this tea against the EU Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of 191 and 440+ pesticides, both passing with ease. This year we decided to forego testing and will test on an alternating schedule as our confidence in this tea and relationship with the farmer is quite strong. In our experience, once someone puts this much effort into establishing a clean garden, it would be unlikely and unwise to throw it away all of a sudden.
If you’re seeking a tea that has been produced in the year it was tested, we recommend purchasing either our Dog or Rooster cakes. If you would like a copy of the lab results for previous years, please contact us.
We’re honoured to have this year’s artwork designed by Beijing and New York based artist, Qiurui Du. Please check out his website as well as Weibo, and give him a follow on Instagram for more great work.
Picking period: March 16 – April 3