10 November, 2011

2011 Essence of Tea "Zhengshan Xiaozhong"

Dear Reader, some of you are far too generous.  I lament my inability to find good lapsang, and suddenly, four kindly souls have provided me with really very good examples of it.

Perhaps the most "authentic", in the sense of provenence, must be this 2011 version from Essence of Tea.

2011 Zhengshan Xiaozhong

I believe that it was Mrs. Essence who procured this tea, which came from Tongmuguan [tong-wood pass], an area near Xingcun village of Chongan county, in northern Fujian, from which zhengshan xiaozhong is supposed to have originated.  

As Mr. Essence notes in his description of the tea, it is longer in leaf than the 2010 equivalent.  Like that tea, it is a well-handled affair, and the leaves have a beautiful fragrance of sweet, dense hongcha.

2011 Zhengshan Xiaozhong

You may notice in the photograph above a charming little "xishi" teapot.  I bought this from M. Erler of Teamasters some years ago, for around £40.  It was a birthday gift from my parents, in fact, and is one of my most beautiful teapots.  I duly dedicated it to hongcha at the time.  However, this decision means that it spends most of the year in my cupboard, because my increasingly-rare tea sessions tend to be filled with pu'ercha.  Thus, it is a real pleasure to blow the dust off it (literally) and brew up some good red tea.

2011 Zhengshan Xiaozhong

In character, it is much like the 2010 version, which is to its credit.  Both teas are delicious hongcha, which my xishi pot seems happy to brew - she glows visibly.  It is smooth, full in the mouth, and the pine-like hints are gentle, and well-integrated with the malt of the hongcha.  It is a real treat - thanks again to Mr. Essence for the sample.

I could definitely get used to zhengshan xiaozhong like this, which is the "yin" to the aggressive, smokey "yang" of traditional English "lapsang souchong".

(For reference, this tea costs £22/100g at the time of writing.)


Anonymous said...

This tea is delicious in deed. While the smell of the dry leaves is heavy bacon like, the tea itself is clear without any disturbing elements. The smelling cup is releasing a particularly intense hongcha fragrance.

Hobbes said...

Bacon tea - my dream come true. :)

Anonymous said...


Alex Zorach said...

I first was served one of these gentle zhengshan xiaozhong's by Bradon of Wrong Fu Cha, I cannot remember the origin of the tea, and I found it most delightful.

The English variant I usually find too smoky, but I do love the result of blending a more smoky Lapsang Souchong with a different tea that is powerfully bitter, but not at all smoky.

Hobbes said...

Dear Alex,

There's no doubting the fact that these more gentle types are probably more authentic. They are quite delightful, I agree. Truly, one of the best hongcha I've ever had.

They're just different to the more brusque version that I'm used to. :)