We didn't make much black tea in early spring. Since the weather was so dry, we preferred to focus on Puerh tea production. Natural tea garden material was particularly scarce this year.
We only made one batch of conventional sun-dried black, also known as 'Shai Hong‘. In early Spring, the warm weather allows for a fast oxidation, as long as the moisture in the leaves is preserved. We chose to slow things down, and take advantage of the night to have a slow oxidation.
After a light evening of sha qing sessions, we started rolling lightly withered leaves around 2am. The leaves weren't soft enough and would lead to a mess in the rolling machine, we softened them first with a hand rolling. After 20 minutes of careful work, the leaves were soft enough to confront the rolling machine. We didn't add too much pressure and continued the light work for 40 minutes.
The leaves were then laid on a soft basket, covered with a wet piece of cloth in order to limit the loss of moisture. They oxidized until sunrise, at which point we laid them on our drying mats. They were dry by 2pm.
There is nothing fancy on this tea, I think we hit the right level of oxidation which allows to have a decent aromatic complexity, while preserving a good bite: a mix of sourness, bitterness and sweetness that you could call 'minerality'. This is the kind of tea that always calls for another cup.