Previous in series: Keemun – Splendor of Flavor and Perfume
As a trans-Himalayan crow might fly, China’s Yunnan Province is just across the hills from Assam in India. This is the region where the tea species is thought to have originated and the similarities in taste and even appearance between the black teas native to Assam and Yunnan are interesting. For a variety of reasons, black tea production in Yunnan began only in 1939 – a century behind Assam – but already Yunnan produces more black tea than any other province in China. No tea is easier to recognize than Yunnan black. It alone is made from the Dayeh (broad-leafed) cultivar – unknown outside the region – which has distinctive fat leaf buds (tip) and thick, soft leaves. So tippy is this leaf that it is often khaki-colored, and the tea’s peppery flavor is similarly distinctive, with a character so assertive and rich a French tea man calls Yunnan “the mocha of tea.” Although recently developed, it already ranks with the grandest of the world’s black teas, what the same Frenchman is pleased to pronounce un Grand Seigneur. As a morning-time pleasure it is rarely to be equaled and never surpassed, and the craving for it may recur during the day, more especially if one has discovered that blondest and most beautiful of teas well-named Yunnan Gold. I shall say no more in its praise, omitting a great deal. Yunnan’s black tea is produced mainly in the southernmost part of the province around Menghai.