"Zongzi" Tea



May 2023

Wuyishan, Fujian

Some of you may know that Zongzi 粽子, or “sticky rice dumpling,” is a famous Chinese dish that is traditionally eaten during Dragon Boat Festival. It is made by wrapping glutinous rice, combined with different fillings, in special bamboo leaves.

We have found a very rare “Zongzi” tea from Wuyi Mountain, Fujian, inspired by this widely loved and celebratory food. 

Each little tea-Zongzi is made by hand, using the same special varietal of bamboo leaves that would be used to prepare the food. In place of sticky rice we find a prized oolong folded inside these leaves. The tea is a true cliff shuixian from old grove trees. The shuixian trees are around 60 years old and grow near the Shuilian Cave, at the base of Water Bead Curtain, within the boundary of the Wuyi Mountain Nature Reserve.

Zongzi tea is crafted by Mr. Lian, who lives in the Wuyi Mountains and collects the local bamboo leaves himself. After the leaves have been cleaned and dried in the sun, around 9 grams of tea is methodically wrapped inside them. Then these small packages receive 2 rounds of slow charcoal roasting, with each round lasting over 10 hours. This roasting process integrates the flavour of the oolong with the aroma of the bamboo leaves, while ensuring the tea is suitable for aging.

Brewing the Zongzi tea is a very special experience, as for the entire time we are drinking it, we do not actually see the tea leaves. The whole bamboo parcel is submerged in boiling water, and we watch as the tea’s colour slowly leaks out from the corners of its wrapper. Pressing gently on the parcel will cause plumes of auburn liquor to fill the gaiwan. 

The tea is as delicious as it is evocative to brew. The sweet, sunbaked fragrance of the bamboo leaves is quite prominent, wrapping itself around the dense mineral taste of the rock oolong. The woody, agarwood incense notes of the old grove shuixian are diffused by the creamy notes from the bamboo leaves.

This tea lasts for many, many infusions: gradually, we feel the gently stimulating effect of the hidden rock oolong. We noticed, as we enjoyed this tea through its infusions, that it had us disclosing some secrets by the end.  

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Brewing guide

Tea one zongzi
100 °C
Water  120ml
Steep time 30 - 90 sec
No. of infusions 10+

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