Ming Qian Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (明前正山小种) is a wonderfully fruity black tea from Tongmuguan (桐木关) area of Wuyi Shan, the original location where this type of tea was first grown and produced. It is crafted from young spring leaves of the native Qizhong cultivar plants that are around 60 years old and are grown at an altitude of over 1,000m. This tea delivers a complex but delicate fruity liquor that is hugely appealing. Sourced by us direct from one of the Chen & Zhou family tea gardens, this batch was harvested pre-Qing Ming (Ming Qian), on 1 April 2022.
The most popular Wuyi black (or red tea according to the Chinese classification) in the West is undoubtedly another version of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong that would be familiar to many: smoked Lapsang Souchong. The smoked version of this tea is arguably the original black tea, first introduced in this area over 400 years ago. As with many great things, the origin of it was accidental but the tea proved extremely popular for export to the West. From this point a whole new black tea industry was born that later expanded worldwide. While perhaps Wuyi black teas are no longer the most famous and a lot of attention is deservedly paid to Wuyi Oolong tea instead, there are some great examples being produced in Wuyi Shan. Lapsang Souchong is perhaps the most famous, but the unsmoked style, otherwise known as Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, is also popular. And of course the most recently introduced Jin Jun Mei (this version from the same grower is particularly good, with a lovely honeyed profile) is gaining more fame.
We have recently partnered with a wife and husband team who represent Chen and Zhou tea master families respectively to bring their traditional teas to our shop. The family has gardens in Wuyi Shan and in Zhenghe County of Fujian Province, as well as having gardens in Guangdong Province. They specialise in producing hand crafted artisanal teas. Compared to larger gardens and factory productions, these are made in small batches and are still made according to traditional methods passed down the generations in their families. We have a small selection from the Chen & Zhou family gardens available already with more teas (including Wuyi Oolongs) coming soon! This particular tea ticks all the boxes when it comes to a proper Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong: it is grown in Tongmuguan, made of older trees of the Qizhong native plants and is crafted according to the traditional family recipe.
This tea produces a light amber liquor with a fruity and mineral aroma. The complex flavour is soft and delicate. The predominately fruity profile has a savoury taste with citrus yuzu notes. It delivers a lasting aftertaste that has a more mineral edge and mouthwatering light tannins at the very end of the flavour. The is an elegant tea with a soft flavour that is a great representation of a fine, fruity style Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste. It should be brewed multiple times depending on your taste preferences. For best results, gongfu brewing is advised.