Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flight of Teas: December 4 - 5

This coming weekend we want to take you on a journey through China, sharing with you it's various black teas and how different they can truly be.  In near central China, our journey begins in Hunan province, where we found our Hunan Black Buds, a deliciously light and sweet black tea.  Traveling east, we would find ourselves in Fujian, where deliciously simple and medium bodied Panyang Congou is harvested.  Heading north we'd find ourselves in Anhui province where Hao Ya "A', a strong and chocolatey Keemun.

Hunan Black Buds is a new find for Harney & Sons this year.  The leaves are light, fuzzy with a plethora of buds mixed in.  All this makes for a light brew in body with loads of toasted, caramel sweet notes.

Panyang Congou is a step further into the dark and smoky tea land.  It exhibits less sweetness and definitely more heft than Hunan Black Buds, less like honey, more like toasted apples.  Congou is a corruption of the Chinese words "Gong Fu", which means "Highest Mastery".  A tea trade classification for Chinese black teas with this particular twisted shape, the word refers to the masterful skill required to produce the teas by hand.  However, now the tea is almost entirely processed by machine.

Hao Ya "A is a Keemun, which are some of China's oldest and most renowned black teas.  Hao Ya 'A' is harvested later in the spring, when the leaves are bigger and more flavorful.  This allows the tea to have dark, chocolaty notes and an intense, roasted aroma.  As far as the gradations are concerned, the best tips become Hao Ya 'A', the rest become Hao Ya 'B', but these only exist in U.S. Markets.

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