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"Pine Needle" Song Zhen Dian Hong Black Tea



The Wise Tea Master Lao Cha was meditating in Yunnan's lush forests one early autumn day.

With each breath in, the scent of ripe plums and apricots would whoosh through.

With each breath out, a pine needle would fall off the trees around him.

When Lao Cha finished his morning meditation, he set to work on the tea farms, bringing his new inspiration with him. Thus, Song Zhen Black Tea was born.


Deep in the mountains of China's southern province Yunnan, tea partners Mr. Yang and Mr. Zhang work on rolling needle-thin strands of tea leaves. Indeed, the name Song Zhen "Pine Needle" Black Tea comes from the delicate shape of the tea leaves — mimicking long and thin pine needles. Song Zhen, meaning "pine needle" in Chinese. While this practice is not uncommon in green or white tea production, it's quite unique when it comes to black teas.

While in China hong cha, or black tea, has a history of over 2000 years, this tea is relatively new — just shy of 100 years in age. We categorize this tea as Dian Hong, which means Yunnan red tea. It's a craft tea that gained immense popularity in the early 20th century after becoming a favorite with the Queen of England. Preferring the gentle and sweet flavor profiles of Chinese black tea over the more robust profiles of Indian black tea, Yunnan tea quickly gained a royal following.

What makes Pine Needle Dian Hong Tea exceptional is the tea leaves — the iconic golden hues of Yunnan black tea covered in fuzz – a sign of quality and young age of the leaves. At first sight, you might really think that these are pine needles that fell to the ground in autumn, making it a genuinely timely tea that farmers finish processing just in time for fall.

The flavor profiles of our Song Zhen Black Tea are light and aromatic, making it an ideal brew for those new to Chinese black tea. At first sip, the liquor is sweet, and a tad bit sour, with bright notes of apricot. The taste and aroma transform with each subsequent infusion — sugared vanilla and fragrant roasted coffee beans come into play. Then comes a long-lasting, mouth-watering, and malty finish. Take a whiff of your gongfu set afterward, and you'll get notes of sappy autumn prunes.


Tea plantation


Mr.Yang and Mr.Zhang are living and tea farming in Pu'er, Yunnan. They are knowledgeable, creative, curious, and not shy of experimentation. Yang and Zhang love experimenting with local ancient trees as well as with cultivars that are not native to Yunnan, and create new and unique tea varieties. 


 Mr.Young and Mr.Zhang

Place of Origin: Yunnan Shan, Yunnan, China 
Altitude: 1300m
Harvest Date: March 10, 2023
• Picking Standard: One bud and one leaf.
Aroma: chocolate, prunes and light woody notes
Taste: rich, malty, with notes of dark chocolate, sour cherry and long lingering finish
• Tea Tree: Camellia sinensis var. assamica, Da Ye Zhong (大叶种)
Cultivar: Xue Ya #100


Brewing guidelines:

       195℉ / 90℃ 

1g per 50ml   3-4min

     1g per 20ml   5sec + 5sec for each subsequent infusion

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
Anj K
A delicate and chocolatey tea!

I had the pleasure of enjoying a gong fu tea ceremony with this tea and my family who isn't as used to Chinese teas. Everyone absolutely loved it! We all noticed how delicate the tea is. Not only are the tea leaves themselves so beautiful and delicate, but the taste as well. First, we all noticed a strong cacao aroma that lingered throughout the first couple brews. Also, my family noticed how this tea is a lot more like a white tea in its qualities. However, as the numbers of brews progressed, and the tea needles began to open up, the tea started resembling more of a usual Chinese black tea - malty, pleasantly tart on the palate, a tad sour. It's a special tea and I would recommend it to anyone!

refreshes my breath

I love this stuff. I make it in a Gaiwan and it's the perfect 3:00 tea at my clinic. I would describe it as a juicy black tea.

David White
Another Tasty Red Tea

This tea tastes sweet and sour. I definitely tastes like a sour cherry. Very good tea.

Chocolatey taste!

You definitely get the chocolate and cherry in the smell when you first open the bag. I make mine mostly western style during the week just because I don't have time to do it otherwise. You really don't get too much of a cherry taste that way, however you do get a chocolatey taste for sure. However when you do make it using the ceremonial approach you do get a hit of cherry with it. It's subtle but it is there.

I have drank tea from a tea bag for years and do enjoy it, however all the teas that I have gotten from Path of Cha are a whole other ball game. So much more complex and there is absolutely something for everyone here. It's great to have a choice of flavors when it comes to tea versus just the same old same old. And their customer service is fantastic so I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes tea and is interested in being brave and trying something a little different.

Malty, caramel taste

I am writing this review while tasting this very interesting black tea, Pine Needle. I wouldn't say I am new to drinking tea; however, I would drink it sporadically as I didn't much care for it unless I could add honey or milk. About five years ago I started drinking loose leaf tea, and found the variety of teas available to be both amazing in taste but also overwhelming to the mind. Such a difference from the "bagged tea" found so often in our stores and drinking it with an added "sweetener" to cover up the bitterness of the tea, and often the look of displeasure that is quite apparent upon my face when drinking it. I say all this because I want you to understand that when reviewing this tea and any future teas, I am definitely an amateur and you should take my reviews as such. Side note, I drink my tea from an unseasoned Yixing teapot.

The first impression I have of the tea is the smell. It's not strong, but it's heavy. Very dark smelling, like chocolate mixed with maple syrup. A very enjoyable aroma, making me wish the smell was stronger. It immediately gives me the sense I will find this tea agreeable. The taste is similar to the smell. It's viscous, definitely "fills" the mouth with a heavy feeling, but the tea goes down smooth. The first steeping, heavier on the chocolate, light on the sour with a sappy caramel taste that lingers. The role is reversed after each steeping and the caramel taste gets stronger. The flavor of the tea lingers on the throat, pleasingly so.