By the Pu-erh tea trend in recent years, dark tea is known by more and more people. Dark tea belongs to post-fermented tea, and it needs aging to increase the flavor. After a long-time store, some leaves may develop tiny little golden flowers; It is regarded as the symbol of high-quality tea. And a kind of dark tea named Fuzhuan Brick Tea is famous for its large amount of golden flowers. This feature of Fuzhuan brick tea is from its unique processing.
What Is Fuzhuan Brick Tea
Fuzhuan Brick Tea (or Fuzhuan Cha) was originated in Jingyang City, China, so it is also called Jingyang Fuzhuan Cha. “Fu” in Chinese means the hot summer because it is the season tea produced. Another saying is, this leaves’ scent and benefits are close to Glabrous Greenbrier Rhizome(A Chinese Medicine.)
Jingyang is located in the midland of China, an important post of the ancient Silk Roads. The tea produced in the south must pass Jingyang and sell to the west regions like Tibetan, Xinjiang, and Nepal.
Interestingly, due to the local climate not being comfortable planting tea, Jingyang city only does the tea-processing job. Similarly, only the dark tea processed in Jingyang can develop golden flowers because of the climate.
There is a story about Fuzhuan brick tea. A long time ago, a trade caravan was transporting a batch of Anhua Dark Tea to Xinjiang. When they pass by Jingyang, they were careless and fell the goods into the river. It was a rainy season, the caravan cannot keep going, and the teas cannot dry. A dozen days passed, they smelled a unique and charming scent from the damp teas.
After they open the tea package, and they got shocked. Many tiny golden flowers appeared on the leaves, with a little warmth; the tea went moldy. Merchants felt down and made a decision. Rather than lose all the goods, it’s better to keep going west, see if they can sell these moldy-teas out.
They passed a village and found the folks were suffering from dysentery. They gave half the teas to the folks from goodwill, then kept moving. A few days later, several folks on horses caught up with the caravan. They told the merchants that all the patients were getting well after drinking their tea, and dysentery had under control; these leaves must be a gift from god. So they hope to buy the all left at a high price.
The emperor heard the story, then sent the professional tea masters to Jingyang for research, and appointed Fuzhuan brick tea as a tribute. Every year later, the tea masters in Jingyang will purchase the dark rough tea from Sichuan and Hunan and further process it into Fuzhuan brick tea. About 30%-50% yield turn over to the emperor as tax, and the left only allows for sale at the appointed regions.
You may ask why to make the supply chain such complicated. In case the local environment not suitable for tea planting, why not process in the other regions with this method?
In fact, after New China was built, the Chinese gov also tried this way.
People established a tea factory in Hunan and tried to produce Fu Zhuan Cha in this method. The plan failed because the golden flowers could not reach an ideal quality. The experts studied and found that to let the leaves develop golden flowers, three things are necessary: the Jingyang river water, climate, and traditional methods.
Truth About The Fuzhuan Brick Tea Golden Flowers
As compressed tea, why Fuzhuan easier to develop golden flowers than Anhua dark tea and Liu Bao tea? First, we should understand what these golden flowers are.
According to the studies, these golden flowers that develop on Fuzhuan brick tea during the post-fermented time are a type of fungus. They are mainly composed of Eurotium and Aspergillus. These fungi have a similar morphological structure and physiological feature, and the Eurotium Cristatum is the main kind of them. It can secres vast enzymes and activate them to help Fuzhuan tea create more soluble sugar compounds during aging.
These compounds are considered by the medical field to balance glucose metabolism, boost gastrointestinal immunity, and excellent effects on reducing blood fat and pressure.
And during these golden flowers growing, they will also resolve the leaves’ coarser fibers and elder component, increasing Fuzhuan Cha’s flavor. After brewing, they will make the tea distribute a special floral; tea lovers typically called it fungus-flowers fragrance.
Of course, not only the Fuzhuan brick tea can develop golden flowers; all the dark teas can. But the Fuzhuan that from Jingyang got a higher probability. Is it other tea-producing regions that really can’t achieve this? The largest factor is the unique Fuzhuan brick tea processing.
Just like the other dark teas, Fuzhuan is made from dark rough tea. It must go through piling, compressing, and drying. But to Fuzhuan, there is one more step before drying called creat flowers.
After compressing the dark rough tea into a brick, tea masters will heat it with steam for sterilization and make it keep a certain water content. Then send the bricks into a baking house, let the golden flowers develop slowly under a suitable moderate temperature and humidity.
We know that low-fermented tea, like green tea, the leaves picking standard is the tender the better. Dark tea is different; it prefers the elder leaves, even the tea stem. And the Fuzhuan brick tea even contains more tea stems. It is not saying the quality is terrible; instead, the tea stem means a lot to the post-fermented tea.
Due to the different types of tea trees, the one that offers leaves to make dark tea contains more sugar in the stem. In the following aging process, these sugar will become easier to dissolve after fermentation. So the aged dark tea typically tastes sweet. Besides, the ingredients of the tea stem are the crucial nutrition for the golden flowers.
One thing is more important. To let the tea brick develop golden flowers successfully, enough space is also essential besides the proper temperature and humidity.
A moderate tea stem content can make more interspace, and the tea masters also will not compress the brick too tight. This inner ventilated environment is what the golden flowers need.
Once you got a Fuzhuan brick tea, you will found that the golden flowers only appear inside but not on the surface. To standardize products’ quality, the Chinese government standard stipulated that the stem content of Fuzhuan must be at about 15%-18%, and golden flowers must be developed before it sells. That is the reason make people feel Fuzhuan got golden flowers easier than other dark teas.
Typically, the traditional creating flowers job should take 25-30 days. Some tea factories will add tea leaves juice during piling to create more golden flowers and let them grow faster. In this way, the time-cost can short into half a month.
This method got a disadvantage, the final product will only get floral but no tea fragrance, the flavor is not balanced. Because in the traditional creating flowers way, the naturally-grown golden flowers can also resolve and transform the nutrition ingredient and crude fiber of leaves and stem, balancing and improving the brick tea flavor with the leaves-fermentation together.
Worthing knowing, even though Fuzhuan brick tea also suitable for aging, but the golden flowers are a fungus, and they got a shorter life. So the longer the aging time, the golden flower content will reduce; they will wither gradually.
How To Brew Fuzhuan Brick Tea
To let the golden flowers develop better, even though Fu Cha had compressed into a brick, it is not as tight as other dark tea. It’s easy to pry it.
Different from ripe Pu-erh tea, which needs pry from the center. To take Fuzhuan tea, you need to stand the brick up first and pry it gently from the side with a knife. Some more looser brick also can be forced apart with hands. Remember to pry gently and not make the leaves broken.
To brew Fuzhuan brick tea, a set of white porcelain teaware is a good choice. Remember to pre-heat the teaware before brewing.
- Put moderate Fuzhuan bricks into a teapot, add 100℃ hot water, steep for about 3-5 seconds, then pour the wastewater away;
- Rewashing the leaves one more time;
- Refill hot water, steep for about 10-20 seconds, then pour the infusion into a fair cup for equal the concentration;
- Fuzhuan brick tea usually can be brewed over 10 rounds. After the fifth, consider to longer the steep time;
Besides, Fuzhuan tea also suitable for cooking. It’s a common drinking way in western China, and Tibetan loves to use Fuzhuan to make butter tea.
- Prepare moderate leaves;
- Heat the water in the pot, put the leaves in when the water nearly boils;
- Cooking with mild fire for 5-10 mins;
- Pour out and filter the infusion, then serving;
Some people may ask, will the high temperature kills the golden flowers? No need to worry. The studies showed that these fungi could keep active for 20 mins under 120℃. The water boiling point just 100℃, and the brewing time is much shorter than that.
Aging refers to store the dark tea in a ventilated, dark, and with suitable temperature and humidity environment to let it keep fermenting slowly. Unless you live in an extreme climate, one simple proper way to do this is just storing the brick tea in a scentless carton.
One thing about Fuzhuan brick tea is different from other dark teas. Just like what we talked about before, the golden flowers are the primary value of Fuzhuan Cha; and they will wither. Even though the golden flowers still develop during aging, the total amount will reduce by a long time store.
The Fuzhuan brick tea also got a charming flavor when it still fresh. Its infusion shows orange, with full flowers aroma, a slightly sweet and little astringency. After been aging, the floral reduce or gone, the mature grain aroma getting more distinct, and the taste turns mellow.