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. Hannah Gerber Avatar
    Hannah Gerber

    Yep. When you guys react this particular way to a tea, I know to buy it. Doing so now.

  2. Mahjong Avatar

    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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