2007 Xiangyi Zhuan Hunan Heicha via YS [Episode 176]

The final episode of our mini-series on Fuzhuans. This tea is more similar to semi-aged raw pu’erh and has a distinctively strong, ripe fruit aroma and taste to it. Sample courteously supplied by Scott.



2 responses to “2007 Xiangyi Zhuan Hunan Heicha via YS [Episode 176]”

  1. Interesting session. To me, your experiences of earthy (I mean ‘dirt’ kind of earthy), leathery, medicinal, sweet (especially honey or molasses) make sense (茯砖 is even sweeter and, notably, grassy–like a field of sun drying straw). I’m drinking as I type my 1992 黑砖, to help me make sense of your tasting. I was thrown only by your characterizations of fruity. Fruity just doesn’t come to mind for me. But I’m not sure I’ve had as young a 黑砖 as 2007, so perhaps fruit flavors are present in earlier ages. That is if what you were drinking was indeed a 黑砖.

    Generally, there are 3 main categories of 湖南黑茶:花卷 (these are the teas that come in the woven bamboo cylinders, from the ~9″ long 十两 to the ~5′ long 千两, with a bunch of sizes in between), 湘尖 (these include 天尖,工尖,生尖,芽尖–usually sold loose in a soft bamboo basket),and 砖 teas (the bricks, of which there are three: 茯砖 [notable for the 金花], 花砖,黑砖). All these are made from so-called 黑毛茶, which can consist of different grades of tea (1-4, and below) but which generally goes through the same processing (with slight variations based on factory and grade): picked leaves are aired out for 2-6 hours; ‘kill green’ is done by hand in a hot pan or in a machine; initial rolling (~15 minutes); wet-piling post-fermentation (6 – 18 hours, depending on grade, season, factory); re-rolling (~6-8 minutes); drying (traditionally on a 七星灶, using pine wood–in effect the leaves are smoked; but not all factories smoke their leaves; 3-4 hours). The 黑毛茶 can then be used to make any of the three kinds of 湖南黑茶。

    Here, it looks to me like you guys might have sampled a 黑砖, where the 黑毛茶 goes through sifting, sorting, blending, possibly blow cleaning, steaming, and pressing. The main difference between a 黑砖 and 花砖 is that the latter tends to use a higher grade of tea. Both of these can be 特制 or 普通, so there are different grades of each one. I have three very fine 1000 gram bricks of 特制花砖, 2000, 安化茶厂,种茶商标–these are pine wood smoked, but I do enjoy them.

    To my mind, if you want to appreciate best the unique flavor experience of 湖南黑茶 you have to spend some time drinking them in Hunan, particularly in 安化/益阳. The tea is redolent of the environment, and spending time there will concretize your experience of drinking and appreciating the tea.

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