Our largest and one of our favourite productions each year, this tea is as “Yiwu” as it gets, exemplifying the typical character of the region: a pleasant and unique fragrance that is accompanied by an underlying sweetness.
As with our 2020 Rat, drier weather has contributed to a denser tea than previous years. Even with this denser flavour and a little bit of extra bitterness, this tea is still quite approachable and very suitable for beginners, both in terms of flavour and budget.
Our experience storing this tea over the last 10 years has been the development of more noticeable honey and fruit notes within 3-5 years.
As we highlight each year, a big draw with this tea is the quality of material used. The trees were planted by this farmer’s family over 45 years ago. At the time, plantation style terraces were in vogue (along with platform heels and disco… maybe not so much in China). However, since the 2000s, these trees have been converted to fangyang (放养, or “left to grow”). This means no pesticides, weed killer, pruning, fertilizers or over-picking.
While this style of farming isn’t ideal for producing maximum output, it does contribute to much higher quality tea than neighboring taidi productions, which adhere to conventional farming methods. The other downsides are the trees left to grow taller on their own tend to compete for space and may require relocation, which isn’t always successful. Additionally, manual weeding is a laborious task that takes at least a month each year to complete. Picking tall trees, even if they’re only middle-aged, is also a more difficult task than pruned bushes.
But if we had our way, every tea would be like this. The deeper roots and more concentrated yield produce a tea richer in fragrance and flavour than typical plantation productions in this price range. And of course, all this without the presence of any pesticides or harmful substances.
In previous years (2017-2018) we tested this tea against the EU Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of 191 and 440+ pesticides, both passing with ease. Although this particular year’s tea has not been tested, the tea is from the same land and our confidence in this tea and relationship with the farmer remains strong. If you would like a copy of the lab results for previous years, please contact us.
This year’s wrapper features artwork by Mexico City based artist Lourdes Villagomez. You can find more of her beautiful work on her site and on Instagram, as well as in her shop here and on Instagram.
Picking period: 1st and 2nd flush, pre-March 28