As much as I like a great cup of Chinese or Japanese green tea, I have to say that, for me, there’s nothing quite like black tea. I’ve said it many times before and I’m sure I’ll say it many more – for me Assam is the be all and end all when it comes to black tea, though it’s important to note that not all Assam is created equal and much of it is actually quite mediocre, at best. But I digress.
After Assam, it would be tough to pick my next favorite but if pressed I’d probably have to go with Yunnan tea. This is a term that covers a great deal of territory, so it’s probably a good idea to narrow things down a bit. Yunnan is a province in southern China that’s well known for its output of a variety of teas. Yunnan may be best known for its production of Pu’er, a type of tea so tied to this region that the city of Simao, in the heart of the Pu’er growing region, recently changed its name to Pu’er City.
Puerh can be an acquired taste for some (present company included). For my money the Yunnan tea most worthy of sitting up and taking notice of is a black tea that’s often just referred to as Yunnan and more specifically as Dian Hong, or sometimes Dien Hung. The ancient Chinese term for Yunnan, Dien Hung roughly translates to Yunnan Red. Red tea in China is what those of us in most of the rest of the world typically refer to as black tea.
Dian Hong is typically harvested from older bushes and tends to be characterized by a relatively high concentration of golden tips. This quality is recognized in such names as Yunnan Gold, Yunnan Pure Gold, Golden Tip, or Golden Buds, among others. It’s a relative newcomer to the pantheon of Chinese teas, having only begun production in the last century or so.
Dian Hong typically has a rather robust, even malty flavor with faint notes of spice or perhaps a hint of pepper, though this may vary considerably depending on the grade. Most varieties that I’ve had the pleasure to try are almost completely free of the bitterness or astringency that makes any tea-drinking experience less than satisfying. Looking back over the Dian Hong varieties that I’ve reviewed over the years at my own site I see that I have yet to run across a dud and one of my favorite everyday teas, one that’s almost always in my cupboard, is a Dian Hong.
For a recent review of English Tea Store’s Golden Heaven Yunnan, look here.
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