This staple Yiwu production has returned for another year. One of our personal favourites, this tea presents classic Yiwu character, with a pleasant fragrance nice sweetness. Pressings from previous year have developed even more noticeable honey and fruit notes with storage.
We still recommend this tea for beginners as it’s generally quite friendly and approachable, however, the lack of rain in 2020 has produced much denser tea, which in this case gives the Rat a little more bite. While the tea is still on the gentler side, this bodes well for maintaining a depth of flavour in cakes that are stored.
One of the aspects that makes this tea what it is, is the material used. 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 (2017-2018) we tested this tea against the EU Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of 191 and 440+ pesticides, both passing with ease. Although this particular year’s tea has not been tested, the tea is from the same land and our confidence in this tea and relationship with the farmer remains strong. If you would like a copy of the lab results for previous years, please contact us.
This year’s wrapper features artwork by UK based artist @NME. Please be sure to check out his Instagram and Facebook for more.
Picking period: Pre-April 8