Rocky Black 2020
This Rocky Black comes to us from one of our well-respected tea foragers, Mr. Fan, also aptly known as “Hunter.”
Many years ago Mr. Fan had taken a position in the forestry department of his local government, in his hometown Zhenge, and was tasked with managing a population of wild boars that were wreaking havoc for local farmers. In 2009, while he was tracking boars in the mountains, he stumbled into an area dense with wild, abandoned tea trees. He was taken aback by the beauty of this discovery: to see so many tea trees, thriving on their own, at home in the ancient forest. And so began his path as a tea forager and producer.
For many reasons, Mr. Fan is a unique tea artisan. Firstly, he does not own any land himself, and he does not have a tea farm. He focuses on crafting tea from wild and semi-wild abandoned tea trees in the mountains, and his wealth is only his understanding of their location and their rhythms.
This tea is made from wild tea trees that grow around the ancient Tianzhu Village. They are old grove trees, suspected to be around 100 years old, situated within thousands of acres of old growth forest. At around 3600 feet above sea level these trees grow to be about 8 feet tall. In these vast, old growth forests, they compete with a variety of other types of trees, all seeking precious, diffused sunlight. Thus, the roots of the tea trees extend deep into the earth to draw nutrients, and they grow slowly, accumulating these rich nutrients and compounds in their leaves. A special feature of the trees that give us Rocky Black is that, at some point during their long lives, they have gone through a slight mutation. Now, when new leaves start to form in the spring, they do so without buds — instead of budding, two small leaves are formed simultaneously – a strategy unique to them.
After harvest, the tea leaves are baked over charcoal at low temperatures for over 48 hours, bringing out their natural sweetness and complexity. The result is a round, sugary and complex black tea with fascinating woody and mineral notes. It combines very pleasurable tastes, like sweet jujubes, with intriguing ones, like sandalwood and wet stone.
This is a special black tea in our core collection for several reasons. Aside from being from old growth, mutant trees, it is a tea that we see people form long lasting connections to. For many, Rocky Black is a tea that, once they’ve tried it, they will always want for it again, and will never seem to tire of its qualities, however distinct they may be.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||10