When I first entered Zao Bing Liang’s tasting room, the air is filled with the freshness of the aroma of maocha. Bags of samples from newly collected loose leaves lined up in rows, each marked with a numeric code. The teas were trucked in from the various mountains in the region. Some maybe less than 30 minutes away, others can be a full day. Yunnan is over 10% larger even than the whole of Germany and tea trees exist in almost all of its mountains.
Some of these maochas are from highly sought after famous villages or mountains, which will be individually made into products carrying their origin names to demand very high market prices. A new discus from Ban Zhang, for example, can easily be fetching thousands of dollars. Aged ones are even much pricier.
Yet there are more others from not as highly demanded origins, but also taste worthy. That’s where Zao’s “formulae” come in. Since the 1970’s, the old master has developed a number of recipes for ganging up harvests from origins of lesser known names for more affordable delicious teas. 7548 is the code name for his most prized and classic shengcha formula.
These bags of samples in lines were there for the old master to finalise which batches and what proportion for the mix. He does that every harvest, for every product.
Presenting the 7548 cha bing from Lao Tong Zhi ( ie Old Comrade ), Master Zao’s very own tea brand. Batch 701 is the first batch of year 2007. That means the best of the year and matured till now.
It is a prime product of old Master Zao’s passion for bringing quality to more people without the price tag of premium origin labels.
There are two product variants to choose from:
A single discus of 357g net weight in the original paper wrap, or a traditional vending form of 7 cha bings bundled in a bamboo sleeve, net weight totalling 2.5 kg.
Please click below to see either options.
Huangshan (translate: Yellow Mountain) is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a China national conservation. Besides beautiful sceneries, it is also the origin for many a fine teas, such as Huangshan Maofeng. The tender young leaf shoot to make Huangshan Spring Equinox is always plucked with one or two tiny immediate leaves. A much sought after green tea amongst connoisseurs worldwide.
Net weight: 40 g (1.8 oz) in Kraft-alu pack
Some people like their green tea soft and sweet, others may prefer a good umami. Yet this leaf shoot tea is neither. Its bitterness is accented by its sharpness on a bold, full body. After Longjing, of all the other green teas from the Zhejiang region, my personal strongest preference goes to Kaihua Longding. To me it is an alternative to a shot of single malt in a heavy evening, or an afternoon kick of espresso. Its pleasant aftertaste is paralleled by neither.
Since encountering the true quality of this tea, I have always wanted to put it in my collection, only to be refrained from extraordinary high asking prices. Genuine ones are rare after all. It has been extremely fortunate, after 13 years, to have located our current farmer willing to sell at this affordable price so we can offer it here to you.
Tea Hong’s Dragon Tip is Kaihua Longding at its very best.
Deep in the mountains in Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan tea trees grow wild amongst other woods and plants in Bulang Shan. Ethnic mountain people, particularly women, bring with them wood ladders and a plank for platform for plucking in tea season, perhaps as it has always been since antiquity. As a continuation of this tradition, Bulang Silver Spring is hand-processed and slow dried over wood charcoal the same way. This shengcha puer is bright and refreshing when consumed as a new tea, or can be put away for maturity.
Deep in Wudong, the most revered area for Fenhuang Dancong production, the village of Shèmen ( sheh-mehn ) is home to one of the most elusive traditional style oolongs. Here the Shè ( 畬 ) tribe settled a thousand years ago and began producing oolong to bake it in a way that was copied in Wuyishan a few hundred years later to produce Wuyi oolongs. Tea Hong’s double baked and matured Shèmen Dancong is our best attempt to reconstruct the same tea of the peace-loving and hard-working Shè people 10 centuries ago. This old style oolong gives a clear and most eloquent definition of the tea term yan-yun — music from the rock. The term has been mostly employed to describe better Wuyi oolongs yet it has never been more beautifully defined by this Phoenix tea. If you ever wonder about the relationship of the oolongs between the two regions, this may well be the link you are looking for.
Net weight: 40 g (1.4 oz) in Kraft-alu pack
The fine mastery that produces Tea Hong’s Honey Orchid has to be coupled with select first flush harvests from high grown tea bushes in order to deliver the kind of quality only a restricted circle of tea aficionados have known and kept to their secret. The overall production volume for such quality in the whole Phoenix region is only a few thousand kilos after all. Most will go to local elites, and the rest to the few hardcore Phoenix oolong fans that are also tea merchants, like us.
Net weight: 40 g (1.4 oz) in Kraft-alu pack
Tea Hong’s Mo Gan Yellow Snails is a break away from the old Mo Gan Yellow Tip. We have greatly modified traditional yellowing to give the tea a distinctive yellow look and a taste that is different from both green tea and old style yellow tea. A neo-yellow.
Unlike other tea categories, old style yellow tea has not prospered in all these decades since tea’s revival after the destructive Mao era. Its taste needs a lot more to create followers.
Similarly from the mountain of Mo Gan in the region of Zhejiang, Tea Hong’s Mo Gan Yellow Snails has departed from the dull colours of the old to maintain a brisk freshness in the look and taste, while achieving a characteristic “cooked” warmth and sweetness that is the real spirit of yellow tea. Now that is a good individualistic character to have a place in any tea repertoire.
Most green tea varieties made in Taiwan are processed with an approach so minimalist that the quality of the harvest and the characteristics of the cultivar almost entirely dictate the resultant taste profile. Processing skills are needed there to optimise it but when the weather or harvesting condition are not good, there is not a lot one can do during processing to salvage the quality.
In order to deliver the very best representation of what a premium Taiwan green tea can be, we have chosen a flavourful cultivar that many have used to produce black teas and Oriental Beauty with for our green tea: TTES#17*.
Tea Hong’s Snowy Egret is made in a specially designated farm from only the first flush of Bai Lu and masterfully handmade by the farm’s owner. Still, a fine harvest like this one in offer cannot be taken for granted every year.