Dian Hong Feng Qing Classic 1938 (滇红凤庆) is a great example of a smooth Chinese black tea from Fengqing County located in Lincang Prefecture of Yunnan Province. This tea is made by closely following the original recipe created around 1938 that marked the inception of the Yunnan black tea industry. Made exclusively from large leaves of local Fengqing assamica plants, it displays a classic Dian Hong profile that has a fine balance between sweet malty and tangy mineral notes. This current batch is from 30 March 2023 harvest.
Yunnan Province produces some great Dian Hong (滇红), or Yunnan Red (red according to Chinese classification) teas. These are very popular due to their flavour profile, having smooth balanced flavours with plenty of full-bodied sweet malty notes as well as general lack of astringency or bitterness. The low level of tannins is attributed both to production methods as well as the actual raw material used for these teas. The native plant to Yunnan Province is the assamica plant, 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. When used for black tea production, like for this Dian Hong Feng Qing Classic 1938, they also deliver great results, having the usual Dian Hong sweet malty flavours that are nicely balanced by some tangy mineral notes.
Black tea production started in Yunnan quite recently, the year commonly given being 1938. Historically, this was preceded by the Japanese invasion of China. As the Chinese forces led by Chiang Kai Shek were forced to abandon coastal territories to the Japanese invaders, they had to relocate many of the industries further inland, with many industries being re-established in Sichuan Province. As the occupied territories were also important tea producing regions, a decision was made to start production of black tea in Yunnan Province. Tea was seen as a major export and an opportunity to fund the resistance efforts. The existence of the Burma Road allowed for these exports to leave the country. An experimental station was established and the first black teas were produced in Fengqing County. Although initial output was very small, the tea was judged very highly. In time, black tea production spread throughout Yunnan Province. The rise in popularity was largely attributed to the balanced and smooth flavours of Yunnan Red – full-bodied sweet maltiness without any of the astringency of other black teas.
This Dian Hong Feng Qing Classic 1938 black tea consists of long large leaves with an attractive golden colours on the buds. The liquor produced has a dark red colour and a lovely comforting malty aroma. The overall sweet malty profile has a nice counterbalance by way of more tangy fruity notes. There are also mineral and stony notes, attributed to the Large Leaf assamica plants. The afttertaste is lasting, with a touch of floral dryness and rose notes. This is a nicely balanced tea and is not as sweet as some other Dian Hong teas can get.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste, brewing multiple times.