Qingxin Oolong cultivar, Yunnan Black tea processing
Unmanaged gardens with very low yield
Full-bodied, intense fragrance, warming effect
Li Chao Yuan, the producer of our Yingpan Shan Black tea, brought a young man to our tea shop. He was from Fen Shui Mountain, a place I'd never heard of, located North of Pu'er City. He unloaded a box from his pickup truck. While opening it, I knew I was going to have a good day.
The fragrance of qingxin oolong cultivar, in its black tea form, filled the room. This is fine, reminding me of the Menghaitian oolong we've sold for two years. We were looking for an alternative to it. I wanted to ask Li Chao Yuan to go process tea there, but the dry weather didn't allow it, this is why he brought this guy to the tea shop.
He claimed to have a similar tea, it turned out to be much better. Yet, the tea was different, lower level of oxidation than the menghaitian oolong. We started a side by side brewing, while discussing processing techniques, and how the fragrance changes as oxidation goes on.
This tea is less oxidized than the menghaitian oolong. He has a fairly large plantation of qingxin oolong, planted to decades ago by a taiwanese tea maker, who then left the area and sold the gardens. I was astonished when he mentioned the yield: only a couple dozen kg per hectare. To get a reference, I texted Mr Huang, who has organic certified plantations on Ailao Mountain and manages his oolong plantations carefully.
It turns out this plantation in Jinggu has a yield twenty times lower than Mr Huang's gardens! Lack of fertilization and pruning are a good reason for this. While this young man's plantation might not be economically viable with such a yield, he only started the tea business two years ago. This is a good opportunity to grab this exceptional material.
We talked about the balance between yield and quality, something a tea producer has to consider to make the business viable in the long run. Meanwhile, we kept brewing the tea and it showed incredible endurance for an oolong cultivar. Every brew was giving a thick soup with strong sweetness and even good aftertaste, something rare in oolong cultivars.
I immediately purchased what he had brought, only two boxes. I'll be looking forward to tasting his further productions.
I hope you will enjoy this tea as much as I do. It is currently my favorite black tea.