- This enchanting smell of old wood, fresh dates and burning charcoal! It enthralls the senses, invigorates the mind and salivates my mouth! Shifu, where does it come from?
- That, young one, is the magic of Mengding dark tea. People living on the ridges of Meng Ding have been perfecting the art of making this delicious tea for centuries, as now you and I shall follow.
This Dark tea (or Hei cha – 黑茶）is another traditional Sichuan favorite. Coming from the famous Mengding mountain, this tea inherits a centuries-old tradition of Dark tea production in this region. The result is a warm, sweet tea with a unique Mengding flavor. This fermented tea from China is equally good for brewing as well as for simmering.
This Dark tea grows in Sichuan’s Meng Ding mountain. The tea bushes belong to an old local variety Old Chuan Tea (Lao Chuan Cha – 老川茶). Most of the tea trees were planted back in the 50s of the last century, between 700 and 1200m above sea level. Today, they grow freely, in a semi-wild state, without being tended to by humans.
For this Hei Cha, farmers use the bud along with up to three leaves. They process them by a traditional method, including charcoal fire roasting and clean over-the-ground fermentation. In April, they pick up the tea leaves from the wild tea garden. Then they quickly roast them in a pan over a charcoal fire to stop the oxidation. Then they set up a special enclosure with a plankboard floor and bamboo fence. There, they stack up the freshly roasted tea leaves for further processing. Under the combined action of heat and moisture, the leaves undergo a transformation for a period of 50 days. Then farmers fry them on a charcoal fire. Finally, they press the Maocha by hand into various forms (mostly tea bricks). In line with the traditional ways, every step in the processing of this tea is done by hand.
The result is a mild, mellow tea with a special “Meng Ding flavor”. The soup is bright red, with a clear and transparent look and feel. The aroma carries notes of wood and red dates with a slightly roasted flavor. This dark tea easily gives off a dozen brews without losing its energy and intensity.
Unlike other teas, dark tea is excellent for daily use, even for those with sensitive stomachs. The fermentation has smoothed out its taste and transformed the rich antioxidant content of the raw tea leaves. It protects the gentle inner membrane of the digestive organs while gently enhancing their work. According to Chinese medicine, Dark tea is gently warming, which is suitable for the colder months. You can brew it in the way of Gong Fu Cha or steep it in a tea mug in Western style. And, don’t throw away the leaves after you’re done with the brew! Unlike the other teas among Six types of tea, Dark tea can (and should) be boiled after brewing! You can put the tea leaves in a small pan, add about 1/2l of water and simmer it over low fire for 10-15 min.
- Place of Origin: Mengding, Meng Mountain, Ya'an, Sichuan Province, China
- Altitude: 700-1200m
- Harvest / Production Dates: April 2021
- Picking Standard: Bud and three to four leaves
- Aroma: clean aroma with notes of berries, oats and honey
- Taste: sweet & sour berries, pine nuts.
- Cultivar: Lao Chuan Cha (老川茶)