Cao Bo Dark Forest is a complex dark tea from northern Vietnam, located just across the border from Yunnan Province of China. A dark tea category is one that is akin in processing to a pu-erh. While only dark teas from Yunnan can be called pu-erh, we choose to label teas that undergo similar processing but are from other regions as ‘dark teas’ in order to avoid any confusion.
This Cao Bo Dark Forest tea is gathered from wild ancient Camellia sinensis var. Assamica trees growing in the area of Cao Bo mountain in Ha Giang province at an altitude of around 1,400m. It is gathered by members of the Dao people, an ethnic minority both in Vietnam and China, with significant numbers in Yunnan Province of China. Following old tea processing methods, the leaves of this tea are processed similarly to a green tea but are then allowed to age through a process of post-fermnetation. This processed is similar to that of a ripe pu-erh – it ages the tea and develops the flavour over many years.
The organic leaves of this tea have been left loose rather than being pressed into cakes, speeding up the ageing process. This particular batch was made from leaves that were picked in 2007 so it has been allowed to age for over 15 years. This has resulted in a complex flavour that has developed over this time that makes this tea quite unique and may be a little challenging for some tea drinkers. While this tea can be somewhat of an acquired taste, we think it is still an exciting and quite different tea to get to know!
Cao Bo Dark Forest is definitely a complex tea that has a very distinctive flavour. The loose leaves are jet black in colour once submerged in water and produce an amber liquor with a characterful woody aroma. The taste has a long finish with earthy and woody notes reminiscent of walnuts. Some people compare the taste to a damp earthy forest, hence the ‘Dark Forest’ name. While having an acquired taste, this tea is highly beneficial for digestion and would be often enjoyed as part of a meal in this region. So try it with a meal, especially one that features very rich food. Also make sure to re-infuse the leaves as many times as you like as the flavours on dark teas do change a great deal with each infusion!
We suggest brewing at 95°C for 2-4 minutes according to your taste. It should be brewed 3 or more times as each infusion brings out quite different aspects of this complex tea.