Review: Norbu Tea Ye Sheng Hong Cha – 2011 Spring Yunnan Wild Black Tea

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Thumbs up!"it resembled black teas from the Caucasus region – Georgia, to be precise."
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This Yunnan hong cha (“red tea” or black tea as we know it) hails from Yunnan province. It is home to my favorite Chinese black tea, Jin Cha (or Golden Dian Hong). From what I gathered after reading Norbu’s tea bio, this “wild tea” varietal was commonly used for more orthodox products – example, Arbor pu-erh. A bit of a fun fact, this varietal is actually part of another species of Camellia, not from the typically-used sinensis family of cultivars. The buds of this type are also used for a unique white tea, and they looked nothing like anything I ever sampled. I’ve tried the Ye Sheng varietal in both pu-erh and white tea form, but I had yet to experience it fully oxidized.

The leaves were an experience in and of themselves. First off, in no way did they resemble the long, curled pieces used for Yunnan Dian Hong. Sure, they were twisty, but they appeared thinner. There weren’t any gold tips to speak of, but some crimson tips were found in the fray. The most exhilarating part was the aroma – an even presence of malt and chopped green olives. Said scent hit me right as I cut open the bag.

Norbu recommended using 3 grams of leaves per cup of water “just off” the boil. I had no idea what they meant by “just off”, so I approached it like I would a Darjeeling second flush – as soon as bubbles appeared, I poured. After that, I waited for three minutes.

The liquor brewered amber-to-almost-copper, no darker than a medium-roasted oolong on a gongfu pour. Aromatically, it was crisp, slightly tannic, with a hint of malt on the edge. To the taste, it reminded me of nothing China put out at all. In fact, it resembled black teas from the Caucasus region – Georgia, to be precise. Something in the middle gave off a citrus vibe, coupled with shades of flowers and mint. It was very wildernessy to the tongue. In short, exceptional and unique; just the way I like it.

— To purchase Norbu Tea Ye Sheng Hong Cha – 2011 Spring Yunnan Wild Black Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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