Buddha's Hand Red
The origin of Yongchun Buddha’s Hand 永春佛手 tea dates back to the Northern Song Dynasty. The story is that a monk in the ancient Qihuyan temple in Anxi County grafted branches of tea trees onto the fingered citron (buddha’s hand) plant, and carefully cultivated the trees. The method of grafting was then passed on to monks of Shifengyan Temple in Yongchun County, and the tea farmers nearby the temple began to plant the new varietal of tea trees.
During the Qing Dynasty, many Chinese emigrated to Southeast Asia from Yongchun, Fujian. They brought the tea, Buddha’s Hand, from their hometown with them as they believed the tea relieves fatigue, reduces blood pressure and inflammation. Until the early 1990’s, 80% of all Buddha’s Hand from Yongchun were exported to Southeast Asia. With the disintegration of state-owned tea factories and the decline of foreign trade, the Yongchun Buddha’s Hand lost its main market, and the tea was made to mimic the more popular Tieguanyin oolong.
As a result, a large number of the old Buddha’s Hand tea gardens that were planted during the 1900’s have been abandoned, and even the local people of Yongchun have gradually forgotten what traditional Buddha’s Hand tea looked or tasted like.
Yongchun Buddha’s hand are unique among tea trees. Although the trees are shrubs, the leaves are large and plump - some growing as big as the size of a palm!
Our friend Mei is a native of Yongchun County with deep roots and a passion for the history and traditional crafts of the town and the people. In the past eight years, Mei has searched for tea in the mountains and hills of Yongchun with several friends. She searched almost every major mountain, and found that the old groves of Buddha’s Hand and Shuixian tea forests are deserted in the deep mountains at high altitudes of 2000 - 3000 ft above sea level. Due to the remote location of these old groves of tea trees, they have been protected from human intervention and destruction. To Mei, a clean cup of tea means that there is much more work to be done to protect the tea mountains and old tea trees.
Usually, leaves from Buddha's Hand tea trees are processed into oolongs. The Buddha’s Hand Red is a black tea that was first made in the early 2000s. The leaves consist of one-bud-two-leaves from Buddha’s Hand tea trees in Sukeng County of Yongchun. The buds are purple-red in color when harvested by hand in the early spring. The tea is refreshing, bright and sweet, with a unique citron aroma. It is naturally milky, with notes of chocolate, citron and wild flowers.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||8