June 2024 – Gourmet Loose Leaf Tea Subscription | Curious Tea

Welcome to the Jun 2024 edition of the Curious Tea subscription! This month our spotlight is on fresh 2024 harvest teas from China. Here’s a closer look at the four exciting new teas that we are sharing with our subscribers this month.

The lighter side of the selection this month features a Ding Gu Da Fang green tea from Anhui Province that is made in the style similar to Long Jing to deliver a classic green tea profile. The second light tea is a pure bud Bai Ya white tea from Yunnan Province that undergoes slightly different processing to deliver a complex flavour.

For the dark side of the selection we have a high grade Golden Needle Keemun black tea made by hand from young spring buds to create complex yet delicate flavours. Finally the last tea to be featured is an Orange Blossom Aroma Oolong from Guangdong Province that delivers a classic Dan Cong experience with floral honey flavours and a touch of astringency.

This month’s teas
Light boxes Bai Ya White Bud Discovery boxes
Mixed boxes Ding Gu Da Fange
Keemun Jin Zhen Golden Needle
Dark boxes Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang

Our Discovery subscription boxes contain 10g taster pouches of all of the above mentioned teas. If you are a subscriber you will benefit from a 10% discount on all teas from our tea shop!

Let’s get into further detail on these teas featured in our June tea subscription boxes.

Ding Gu Da Fang

China Anhui Huang Shan Ding Gu Da Fang Valley Peak Green Tea

Ding Gu Da Fang (頂谷大方) is a classic green tea from Huangshan (黃山) ‘Yellow Mountain’ area of Anhui province in China. Huangshan not only happens to be a popular tourist destination in China but is also an ideal location for tea growing. The cool and misty climate as well as mineral rich soil combine to produce flavoursome teas that have a high level of theanine and are rich in tannins and vitamins. 12 April 2024 harvest.

This tea is named after its creator, a Buddhist monk – Da Fang, who lived at the top of a mountain called Lao Zhu Feng during the late Song Dynasty. According to legend he personally grew and harvested this tea and served it to visiting scholars. As the tea quickly gained reputation, many people wanted to come and taste it so the monk shared the tea with the local farmers. As they prospered from this tea, they named the tea in honour of the monk: Ding Gu (Valley Peak) Da Fang. This tea grew so much in popularity that it was once one of the top ten teas of China, and is still considered to be a famous tea according to some lists.

Anhui Province, China

In appearance it resembles another famous Chinese tea, Long Jing Dragon Well. In fact it is thought by some that Ding Gu Da Fang is the predecessor of Long Jing tea. If you compare the leaves of the two teas side by side, you can certainly see the resemblance in the shape of the leaves due to similar processing employed.

This Ding Gu Da Fang green tea has very flat green leaves that open up when brewed. You can see that it is made exclusively from buds plus 2 small leaves. The liquor has a light green colour with a sweet nutty and vegetal aroma. This tea has no dryness or astringency with a long lasting and deep mineral taste. There are sweet notes of corn, fruits and almonds. Definitely a more complex cup that should be savoured to appreciate the nuances from each infusion.

It is best brewed at 80°C for 2-3 minutes and the leaves should be re-infused around 3 times.

You can also buy this Ding Gu Da Fang green tea in our online shop.

Bai Ya White Bud

Blog - Bai Ya Yongde White Bud

Bai Ya White Bud (永德白芽) is a complex pure bud white tea from Yongde County, Lincang, Yunnan Province of China. Grown in a remote area of the province, close to the border with Myanmar, it is hand harvested from local assamica trees and processed similarly to a sheng (raw) pu-erh. The plump buds produce a complex liquor with a smooth taste that is creamy and sweet with a lasting aftertaste. This particular batch was harvested on 10 March 2024.

Just as some other white teas from Yunnan Province (like our White Moonlight or our pressed Silver Needle Cakes), this tea is also sometimes classified as a pu-erh due to similar production steps and methods. In these cases we must make a decision on whether to classify as a white tea or a pu-erh. Generally we make this distinction based on the characteristics of the tea, rather than on the processing steps. Due to similar processing methods employed, and as these whites teas originate from the birthplace of pu-erh, sometimes they are referred to as white pu-erh.

Yunnan Province, China

This Bai Ya White Bud tea is harvested from native assamica tea plants of Yunnan Province that are locally known as Yunnan Da Ye Large Leaf (雲南大叶). These plants have larger leaves than their sinensis cousins and are largely used for pu-erh tea production in the region. For white tea, it undergoes processing that is more akin to a young Sheng Cha (生茶) Pu-erh. So it starts life as young and tender leaf buds that are carefully hand plucked so as to keep the buds intact. They are then withered, very lightly pan fried and dried in the sun. As there are still enzymes present in the tea leaves, this leads to a slight oxidation during sun drying. Therefore, this white tea is closer to a Mao Cha (毛茶), which is the loose-leaf form of young Sheng Cha Pu-erh and is the starting point for pu-erh tea.

This tea consists of neat, plump buds that are covered in small white hairs giving them a silver colour and a very attractive appearance. Compared to Silver Needle teas, especially from Fujian, these buds are larger, thicker but are less silver in colour. It produces a creamy-yellow liquor that is bright and clear. The aromas are of fresh woody and grassy hay notes. The processing results in a profile that is more complex when compared to other white teas. The liquor is smooth but flavoursome, with a creamy profile and sweet hay notes. The aftertaste is lasting and smooth with chalky, woody notes and just a touch of dryness. Overall, this is a complex but smooth white tea with a comforting impression.

We suggest brewing at 80°C for around 3 minutes. Bai Ya White Bud tea shoud be brewed multiple times depending on your taste preferences. As with all white teas, you can experiment with brewing times. Try either brewing this at a lower temperature (70°C) for 4-5 minutes or alternatively at 90°C for 60-90 seconds. Different brewing parameters produce quite different results so experimenting with the water temperature and steeping time is the best way of finding the brewing method that works best for you. This tea works well for both western and gongfu brewing style.

You can buy this Bai Ya White Bud white tea in our online shop.

Keemun Jin Zhen Golden Needle

Blog - Keemun Jin Zhen Golden Needle

Keemun Golden Needle is a fantastic top grade Qimen Jin Zhen Hong Cha (祁门金针红茶) produced in Qimen County of Anhui Province, China. Made entirely by hand from young tender buds, it has a complex, yet delicate profile. This particular lot was harvested in 12 April 2024 from tea trees grown at higher altitude.

The origin of Qimen Hongcha (祁门紅茶) or ‘Keemun Red Tea’ only dates back to the late 19th century. The Keemun name comes from an older Western spelling of the town of Qimen in Anhui Province, which is the birthplace of this tea. Keemun quickly become a popular and famous black tea, especially in the West, due to an appealing, fragrantly sweet and fruity character that it develops. Many other sub-types of this tea exist: Mao Feng, Hao Ya and Congou (Gong Fu) being the most common and popular ones. Lower grade Keemun black teas are also commonly used in tea blends. We also stock a high grade tippy Keemun Xiang Luo Aromatic Snail in our shop.

Keemun Jin Zhen Golden Needle

This particular Keemun is a Golden Needle (Jin Zhen) style of tea, the name referring to the appearance of the dry leaf that resembles small thin needles with a golden colour. While not as well-known as the more famous Mao Feng type, this is a fantastic top tier tea that is quite rare due to limited production. When compared to other styles, this Keemun is made from smaller, younger leaves that are picked earlier in spring. In contrast, the Mao Feng style generally utilises larger leaf that is picked towards the end of spring, resulting in a fuller and bolder flavour that definitely misses out on complexity and delicate nuances.

This Keemun Jin Zhen Golden Needle has neat thin leaves that are mostly dark in appearance, with an attractive golden colour. It brews up a lightly coloured liquor that is highly aromatic with a fruity and malty scent. The soft and delicate character of this tea nicely combines with a complex fruity and malty profile. The taste starts on a more mineral edge, slowly progressing to malty and sweet notes of red stone fruits and additional lightly roasted, sweet tobacco notes. There is a hint of tangy passionfruit just before the taste reaches a more mineral and tangy aftertaste that is lasting, yet clean. It is a delicate tea that showcases the famous Keemun aromatics and sweetness, delivering them in a sophisticated manner.

We suggest brewing at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste, brewing multiple times. This is a rare and top end tea that is to be enjoyed without anything added and best brewed gongfu style.

You can also buy this Keemun Jin Zhen Golden Needle black tea in our online shop.

Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang

Blog - Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang

Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang (单枞黄枝香), also known in English as Orange Blossom Fragrance or Yellow Gardenia Flower Fragrance, is an excellent example of a Phoenix Oolong from Guangdong Province in Southern China. It comes from the Phoenix Mountain area near Chaozhou City (Phoenix Town) and is made from leaves picked from 30-50 year old Shui Xian cultivar trees. This Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong is noted for its aroma and flavour of orange blossom that is bittersweetly floral and reminiscent of gardenia flowers. This particular batch was picked in 28 March 2024.

Dan Cong (单枞) is the general term that is used to refer to oolongs that come from Guangdong and specifically from Phoenix Mountain. Dan Cong literally means ‘single bush’ as traditionally these oolongs were all picked only from single semi-wild trees. It has now become the generic term to cover all Phoenix Mountain (Fenghuang Shan 凤凰山) and sometimes other Guangdong oolongs. Dan Cong oolongs are noted for their ability to imitate various flavours, be it flowers or fruits. This is a natural characteristic with no flavouring added. The apparent aroma and taste differences of Dan Cong oolongs are mostly introduced during the finishing process of each tea. The skills of the tea master are therefore paramount in how each batch of tea turns out.

Guangdong Province, China

Phoenix Oolong teas are very varied in style and flavour but are often sold just as ‘Phoenix Oolong’ or ‘Phoenix Dan Cong’ often not specifying the exact type of Dan Cong that it is or which area there are from. Make sure to look out for which particular Dan Cong you are buying as they all have varying characteristics and styles depending on where and how they are grown and processed.

The trees that are used to produce this tea are the Fenghuang Shuixian cultivar, which is the traditional cultivar used in this area and the common one for Dan Cong oolongs. The 30-50 year old trees are propagated from a single Dan Cong tree that is reputedly over 600 years old. Spring harvest is particularly favoured as it tends to be more floral and less astringent compared to leaves harvested during other times of the year.

The dry leaves of this Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong are dark and twisted producing a medium strength golden liquor. The aroma is floral, a little roasted with a scent of gardenia flowers. The taste of this tea is full of honey and exotic flower notes. The smooth flavours are sweet and floral with particular hints of orange blossom, gardenia flowers and citrus top notes. There is a lightly toasted aspect with a buttery mouthfeel. The aftertaste is long-lasting with a pleasant level of floral astringency that makes these teas particularly interesting.

This Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong can stand many infusions. Infuse it the western way in a tea pot at 90°C for 3 minutes 3+ times. If you are finding that your tea is turning out a little too astringent, you can reduce the brewing time or temperature until you reach your preferred taste. This tea would particularly benefit from traditional Chaozhou Gongfu style brewing.

You can also buy this Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang oolong tea in our online shop.

We really do hope that you enjoy this tea selection and are looking forward to the selection in our July boxes! For next month we selected two teas from Malawi and two teas from Assam in India. For the lighter side of the selection we will feature a classic whole leaf Xuwola green tea from Latumoni in Assam and a medium oxidised complex oolong from Satemwa in Malawi. For the darker side of the selection, we opted for a traditional handmade Assam black tea from Latumoni and a highly unusual dark tea from Satemwa.

If reading this has made you curious about our teas, but you don’t yet subscribe to a monthly tea selection, you can sign up for our tea boxes in just a few clicks. We ship worldwide from London, UK.

We always love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, suggestions or just want to chat about tea, email us at contact@curioustea.com, via our Facebook page or via Twitter.

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