Popular Post abcdefg Posted May 21, 2015 at 07:14 AM Popular Post Report Share Posted May 21, 2015 at 07:14 AM Dian Hong 滇红茶 has got to be Yunnan's simplest tea. It's the one I started with 7 or 8 years ago after coming here, fresh off the airplane, and it's still one I make several times a week. It never lets me down. Difficult to mess it up, and that's a good thing if you want a pleasing taste without a lot of fuss. I recently bought a lot of this year's crop and sent it to my family and close friends back in the US. Wrote up a "how to" guide to help them prepare it. Thought I'd simply post a copy of that here as a way to kick off discussion of red teas in general. So here it is. ------------------------------------------------------------ How to Brew Yunnan Red Tea To set the most obvious question to rest right away: What the Chinese call red tea 红茶, Americans call black tea, following the example of the Brits. Some say that the confusion arises from when the “color name label” is applied. The tea looks sort of brownish-black when it’s in the tin, but its liquor has a reddish-gold appearance in the cup or glass. What I’ve sent you is Dian Hong 滇红 and it’s one of China’s top ten famous teas. It’s grown exclusively in Yunnan and is shipped from there to all the rest of China. Furthermore, the English went nuts for it after Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1986. She was presented some as a royal gift, and after trying it, decided she had to take back several chests of the delicious stuff. Word got out, and eventually ordinary Englishmen had to have some too. It spread top-down, starting with the upper crust. As with most things, there are various grades. The best comes from Feng Qing 风庆 township in Lincang Prefecture 林沧州, southwest of Dali, and that’s what you will receive. I’ve sent you a solid “daily-drinking” tea. There are more expensive grades that use only the tiny tips of the leaves and buds, but it’s considerably more difficult to brew. Cheap Dian Hong is used for blending, but yours is made for sipping plain. It stands well on its own. It can, however, be mixed with milk and sugar if you wish. It can also be brewed ahead and served cold in the summer months as “iced tea.” Note the golden tips. They are a sign of good quality. Let me tell you how to brew it for best results. This is one of the Chinese teas I came to like earliest in my sojourn here and it’s one I still often brew up for myself. One of its appeals is that it’s a very “forgiving” tea, not easily ruined by suboptimal technique. You can even brew it directly in the glass. In fact, that’s probably the simplest way. Use a tall clear glass, about 8 ounces. Warm it first and pour that water out. Fill the glass about 1/3 full and sprinkle in enough leaves to fully cover the water. Then fill the glass the rest of the way, but not entirely to the brim. Leave an inch or so at the top so you can grasp it there. That part of the glass will be cool. Refill with hot water as needed. Four or five times is fine. Water temperature for this tea is just a little shy of boiling, roughly 90 to 95 C. What I do is boil the water, then let it cool half a minute or so. If your tap water is hard or contains lots of chemicals, use bottled spring water. If you don’t like drinking directly from the glass where the leaves are floating, pour it through a strainer into a cup. At home I use a glass that has double walls, handle, and built-in strainer. Very convenient. The lid helps keeps the tea warm in the winter. You can probably find one on-line. This Dian Hong tea also lends itself to making in a tea pot which has a removable steeping chamber. Those not only exist in the Western world, but people use them in China too. Many different styles. Here are two I’ve used. I bought the one on the left at a grocery store here in Kunming for peanuts. The pretty one on the right was purchased back home from Adagio Tea, by way of the internet. http://www.adagio.com/teaware/glassware.html. If you buy something like this, make sure the steeping chamber is large; the tea leaves need to be able to spread out and expand as they rehydrate. You can also brew this tea in the traditional Chinese “Gongfu” 功夫 manner using a gaiwan 盖碗 and small cups. This is a nice way to serve guests, but it takes some practice. I will only mention it here and now, but will gladly tell you more later if you would like to try that old school method. However you brew this tea, take a moment to admire the leaves when you’re done. Most of them have one bud and two small leaves. By now you have also doubtless noticed the lush, slightly sweet aroma. This tea has lots of nose. That’s one of its charms. Good quality Dian Hong tea is also sold in small compressed balls. They look like this and are easy to carry. One ball is usually enough for a pot of tea. Simply let it dissolve in hot water. So that is how it’s done. You now have a basic “user’s manual.” One of the virtues of this particular Feng Qing Dian Hong 风庆滇红 is that it isn’t “finicky.” It is definitely Yunnan’s easiest, most approachable tea. For example, it’s best after 2 or 3 minutes of steeping, but if you steep it an hour, it’s still OK. It’s best with water of 90 to 95 C degrees, but if your water is almost boiling or barely hot, it still will not become a disaster. It might not be sublime, but it will still be drinkable. Hope you enjoy Yunnan’s easiest tea. If you have problems making it come out to your liking, let me know and I’ll help as much as I can. 7 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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