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Dark Tea

With its long history of tea production, Hunan is the birthplace of Chinese tea culture. According to Han Dynasty sources, the Yiwen Records, and relics unearthed in Mawangdui Han tombs in Changsha, the history of Hunan's tea production dates back to the early Han Dynasty two thousand years ago; Hunan is one of the first provinces which initiated artificial cultivation of tea trees in China.

Anhua dark tea is one of the most famed tea varieties in Hunan. It has enjoyed celebrity since ancient times as a tea attributed to royalty. Famous for its elegant production techniques, natural, healthy and good taste, as well as plentiful references in Chinese cultural , it has been widely accepted by consumers. Dark tea continues its glories in modern society. In 2010, it successively made its debut at the Shanghai World Expo and the Guangzhou Asian Games, which proclaimed to the world the revival of Anhua dark tea. Moreover, the soaring prices of dark tea have evoked the curiosity of the public. The rise ofthis historical tea has created a dark tea whirlwind in the international tea market.

Anhua dark tea is generally accepted as one of the top six most healthy drinks in the world in 21st century, as it contains a higher lipase content than other kinds of tea in addition to various kinds of essential amino acids, vitamins and microelements. It has a great many healthcare functions as follows: lowering blood pressure and preventing arteriosclerosis; healthcare and slimming; clearing the internal heat; refreshing the mind and relieving the fatigue; digesting and reducing the fat; and protection from radiation and cancer.

Sanjian Tea:

Tianjian, Gongjian and Shengjian tea, collectively called Sanjian tea (san means three), are the top grade Anhua dark tea. Tianjian dark tea is particularly precious, which was a tribute to the royal family during the Daoguang Emperor period (1821 - 1850) in the Qing Dynasty.

In order to make Tianjian dark tea, fresh leaves should be picked from matured tea trees right after the Qingming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day, either 4 or 5 April in a given year). Tianjian tea is made of primarily processed raw dark tea after pile-fermenting. The tea, tender in texture, has a regular shape in dark brown color. The tea soup is orange yellow and tastes mellow and refreshing with a sweet aftertaste and pine resin flavor.

Lightly pressed into shape and packed in bamboo slat baskets, Tianjian tea follows the oldest way of packaging which is a precious heritage of traditional Chinese tea culture.

Xianglushan Tianjian Dark Tea products with bamboo slat basket packaging are classified in term of weight, for example, 50kg, 25kg and 1kg.

Sanzhuan Tea (literally means three bricks tea):

Huazhuan (flower brick), Heizhuan (black brick) and Fuzhuan tea are famous traditional types of Anhua dark tea. They were once exported to the nomads in border areas as a daily drink because of the functions of reducing the heat in highland barley and resolving lipid in red meat.

Huazhuan tea, evolved from Huajuan tea, is with patterns on the surfaces of tea brick. It is dark brown in color and pure in aroma. The tea soup is reddish yellow, tasting mellow and a little bit bitter. Aged tea leafs and fresh ones are perfectly mixed in it.

Heizhuan has the same compressing process as Huazhuan tea. Made of the raw dark tea, Heizhuan is black in color and shaped like a brick, hence named “Heizhuan” (literally means black brick). The tea brick has regular and smooth faces and obvious edges and corners. The tea leaves have a pure aroma and the tea soup is reddish yellow with a touch of brown, tasting fairly mellow. As a kind of half fermented tea in compressed brick shape with the meadow smell in fresh tea leaves removed, it will not get damp or mildew easily. Its taste can remain unchanged even after years of storage, and in fact, the longer it is kept, the better it tastes. The tea is recommended to be boiled, with milk and sugar as optional flavoring.

Fuzhuan tea is produced in the dog days of summer which were called fu in Chinese, hence the name Fu Brick. Processing procedures include raw tea preparation, steaming and pile fermentation, compressing and shaping, fungus-growing and drying, and packaging. The compressing of Fuzhuan tea is basically similar to that of Heizhuan and Huazhuan tea, only distinguished in brick thickness. The reason is that the Fuzhuan tea’s unique process of fungus-growing requires a reasonably loose structure to allow the reproduction of microorganisms.

Huajuan Tea:

It is originally called Bailiang Tea, literally meaning Hundred-liang tea, for one column of Huajuan tea weighs 100 liang (Liang is an old unit of weight in China. 16 liang equals 500g). Later there came Qianliang Tea, literally meaning thousand-liang tea, with one column of such tea weighs 1000 liang in that measurement. Xianglushan Huajuan Tea products have three different sizes: Shiliang Tea (362.5g per column), Bailiang Tea (3.625kg per column) and Qianliang Tea (36.25kg per column). Normally a Qianliang Tea column is 1.6 meters long with a diameter of 50 centimeters. Inside some Huajuan Tea grows a kind of fungus, which has been identified as Eurotium cristatum. In the production of Huajuan Tea, the raw tea preparation includes sifting, selecting, shaping and piling. After the processing of twisting, compressing, stamping, rolling and hammering, the tea will be wrapped with polygonum leaves and then palm sheets. In the end, it will be bundled up in bamboo splits in the shape of a column. The processing technique of Qianliang Tea has been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage in China.

Xianglushan Huajuan Tea selects the raw tea grown in the Xianglushan Tea Garden as it material. The handmade processing follows the secret prescriptions handed down for hundreds of years. The bright golden yellow tea soup smells rich and pure and tastes mellow and tender. As a good choice for drinking and collection, it is the only kind of tea collected by some world-renown museums, such as the British Museum, the Palace Museum in Beijing, Taipei’s National Palace Museum, and Tokyo National Museum.