Dian Hong Ming Feng Shan Gu Shu (滇红鸣凤山古树) is an early spring Yunnan Red tea from Mingfengshan in Lincang, Yunnan Province, China. This particular version is picked from wild growing tea trees that are over 100 years old. Made from large leaves of the local Da Ye assamica plants, it produces a complex mineral liquor with a lightly tannic finish. This current batch is from the 5 April 2022 harvest.
This type of tea is called Gu Shu (古树) in Chinese, meaning ‘old’ or ‘ancient’ tree. Age of trees, especially in Yunnan Province, is a somewhat controversial topic since claims are often made of teas being picked from 500 or even 1,000 year old trees. Needless to say, it is difficult to establish the age of the tea tree without cutting it down and the amount of truly ancient trees is not significant enough to produce very large quantities of finished tea. So it is best to approach such extravagant claims with some scepticism.
Generally we would consider tree over 100 years old to start falling into the Gu Shu classification but of course there are no written rules. Everyone has their own interpretation at which age a tree can be classified as Gu Shu, with most common ages given being 100+, 200+ or 300+. The trees that this Dian Hong Ming Feng Shan Gu Shu is picked from are estimated to be 100-300 years old. Without knowing the ages of each individual trees, we feel that it is more appropriate to say that this tea comes from trees that are 100+ years old, even though some individual trees may be quite a bit older..
It is generally thought that tea trees enter ‘old’ age at around 100 years. The age of the tree has a direct effect on the flavour. The leaves from these older trees produce a complex mineral liquor with a lightly tannic finish. The nature of the trees means that this is a bold tea with a deep flavour, stronger than Dian Hong teas made from younger trees and smaller, younger leaves. The trees are also growing wild, without human interference, so typically having a much slower rate of growth. This means that the trees are able to develop a more extensive root system, allowing them to absorb more nutrients, leading to a finished tea having a special ‘ancient tree’ charm.
This Gu Shi Dian Hong has a mixed dark leaf with plenty of golden colour. It produces a dark liquor with a malty aroma and a complex but smooth taste. Unlike some other Dian Hong teas, this one is not particularly sweet, having a bolder and deeper flavour. It features a pronounced malty, mineral and stony flavour with some cocoa notes. The aftertaste is tangy and savoury with some pleasant tannins present.
If you are finding the flavours a little too bold, it is possible to adjust the brewing parameters to make for a lighter cup. But, like with other complex Dian Hong teas, this one can be aged or at least rested further. Reseting for a minimum of 6-9 months will further mellow out the flavours.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3 minutes according to your taste, brewing multiple times.
Dian Hong Ming Feng Shan Gu Shu black tea was featured in our August 2022 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.