Last Updated on 09/27/2020 by Desmond
When we talk about Yunnan, most people will associate it with Pu’erh tea. The senior tea lovers may also know a unique black tea comes from there – Yunnan Dianhong tea. Compared with other common tea types, Dianhong got a fatter, tighter body and a gorgeous golden color. It is said that the British Queen loves its appearance very much, even store it in a glass container for ornamental purposes.
What Is Dianhong Tea
The history of Yunnan Dianhong tea is short; it was invented in the 1940s. Before that, China was the most exporter country in the world. Well into the 20th century, the other tea producing countries like India and Sri Lanka rose sharply and took China’s market. At that time was the beginning of WWⅡ. Aggression against from Japanese also made China’s production reduced.
At that time, the Chinese government sent the tea researcher to Yunnan, where the city far away from war to build a new black tea plantation. That’s for maintaining the tea export, earn more foreign currency for supporting the war.
At the beginning of 1939, Mr. Feng Shaoqiu(A Tea Master) built a tea factory Feng Qing in Yunnan. He successfully produced the first batch tea(16.7 tons) black tea, and named the tea “Yunhong.”
1940, all the black teas originated in Yunnan are renamed as “Dianhong.” “Dian” is Yunnan’s short name, and “Hong” means black tea in Chinese.
It’s effortless to distinguish from Yunnan Dianhong to other black tea. Dianhong tea is almost sold in the whole-leaf tea style, and it got a bigger body. The dry leaves are pitch-black but full of gold fuzz, so it looks like golden tips. The ocular error made by the fuzz color is just like the moonlight white tea, which also comes from Yunnan.
Dianhong belongs to high-end black tea. Most of the tea infusion shows a golden or amber color and sometimes will form a golden ring inside the cup’s wall. This golden ring is because of the rich tea polyphenols like theaflavin in tea, only the high-quality black tea has.
And due to Dianhong is made from the unique local big leaf tea tree, it got a strong flavor but no stimulate. It tastes a little sweet and sticky. It won’t get a bitter taste or intense astringency, except for the low-end product.
In other regions of China, most black tea made from the small leaf type tea tree. Dianhong is made from a unique big leaf type tea tree, assamica Camellia Sinensis.
This type of tea tree is propinquity to the one that produces Assam black tea in India and belongs to the Arboreal plants. From the name, we may see, the leaves of it are bigger than the common one. So Dianhong tea contains richer nutrients, stronger flavor, and can be brewed more rounds.
How Dianhong Tea Processing
Just like the famous Keemun black tea, Dianhong tea was also processing in a Gongfu Black Tea way. This “Gongfu” means not the same as the “Gongfu Tea,” even though their pronounce is the same. Gongfu tea means a traditional Chinese tea ceremony; you can know more about it here.
And Gongfu Black Tea means a black tea processing method. The process is similar to the Orthodox processing method but more complicated in the further process. So it needs tea masters to pay more attention and work hard to produce higher quality. People called this attitude as Gongfu.
Related Reading: 4 Common Black Tea Processing Methods.
The processing of Dianhong tea has mainly been two parts, Primary Processing, and Further Processing.
The picking standard of Dianhong tea is one bud, and the second or third leaf. Fresh leaves after picking should take a little withering, then sent in a particular machine for rolling shape, breaks the leaves’ bodies, and let the juice flow out.
After that, place the leaves on a wooden tray, slow fermentation under an environment with suitable temperature and humidity. At this time, the leaves will turn red and give a delicate apple aroma. Finally, drying them with a machine. Unlike other types of tea, black tea is complete-fermented tea, so it does not need fixation.
We call the tea after being primary processing as primary tea. It can be consumed but is not well enough for sale as a high-end product. So it needs to take further processing.
During Dianhong tea further processing, leaves must take sieving, winnowing, stalk extraction, rebake, and blending. The impurities and decaying leaves will be taken off. The good one will be rebaking to improve the flavor and dry again. Finally, classify all the leaves according to the quality and size. The prices have a significant gap in different quality Dianhong tea.
New Process Dianhong Tea
What is worthing to know, in recent years, there is a kind of Dianhong tea sold on the market, and it is said been processing in a new process method.
The difference is this kind of Dianhong tea is drying by the sunlight, and it is not dry enough. It leads to more active ingredients retained in leaves, and it can get more flavor by a long time aging. But the new process Dianhong tastes bitter when it still fresh, it must take aging before consume. And in traditional, black tea is not suitable for aging; it is best to finish it in the year.
Dianhong Tea Types
Dianhong tea will be classified according to different quality and processing methods, here come 7 common types. But their names are similar and easy to be confused about.
Dianhong Broken Tea
Although most Dianhong tea is sold in a whole-leaf tea style, some are still sold as broken teas. The appearance of them is similar to CTC Assam Black Tea, granulous and tiny. The infusion is bright-red, with a significant golden-ring and a full aroma, taste strong and stimulating.
Broken tea can dissolve more caffeine, so people who have a weak digestive and insomnia should avoid drinking. Besides, Dianhong broken tea is very suitable to be flavored with sugar and milk. It got the name”tea MSG” in local.
Dianhong Golden Needle
Dianhong golden needle tea belongs to a newer type; it is named because of its golden and needle-like body. Dianhong golden needle only made from the tender buds, the brew infusion show amber, sending out maltose fragrance. It’s a kind of high-end Dianhong.
Dianhong Pine Needle
The Dianhong pine needle is close relations to the golden needle. The picking standard is one bud and first leaf, so the quality and price are lower, but it is still good. The leaves are gold-and-black. Like the golden needle, the brand “Feng Qing” products are more famous and higher quality.
Dianhong Golden Bud
Same as the golden needle, Dianhong golden bud tea is only made from the tender bud, and it also belongs to high-end products. The only difference is the golden bud leaves are a little curve, not straight like the golden needle. It’s because the processing methods of them are different, and it leads the taste of them also a little different.
Dianhong Golden Spiral
It is effortless to distinguish Dianhong Golden Spiral by the appearance. Its leaves in a spiral curl, full covered of golden fuzz, looks like a snail shell, so got a named golden-spiral.
The picking standard of Dianhong golden spiral tea is one bud and the first or second leaf. The unique appearance is because it took the Biluochun’s rolling method. The brew infusion is golden and tastes mellow.
Dianhong Golden Silk
Dianhong golden silk tea is also made from the buds, but the leaves are thinner, so people called it silk. Due to the different processing methods, the tea infusion shows orange and with a honey flavor.
Wild Dianhong is also called as Ancient Tree Black Tea. From the name, we know it was made from the leaves picked from the ancient wild tea tree(typically over 300 years old.) The leaves of wild Dinghong is bright-black, strip, with less or no fuzz cover.
The ancient tea tree is old and rooted deep, so the leaves contain richer nutriment than the common Dianhong. Its brew infusion tastes a strong sweet flavor and mellow, and it can be brewed many rounds.
How To Brew Dianhong Tea Better
Dianhong is made from the big leaf type tea trees, and most sold in whole-leaf style. So compared with the other black tea like CTC, it can be brewed more rounds. And it only costs a short time to make an infusion, so it’s best to enjoy it with friends.
- Pre-heat the teaware;
- Take 5-8g Dianhong black tea into a teapot, add hot water, and pour it out soon. This is for pre-heat the leaves;
- Add 80-90℃ hot water in, just steeping for 1-2 seconds, then pour the infusion into the fair cup. Here I highly recommend using a glass fair cup, because the Dianhong tea infusion color is really beautiful;
- After the third infusion, every time steeping time can increase 3, 5, or 8 seconds, or according to the actual situations;
- Dianhong tea is resistant to brew, typically can be brewed over 10 rounds;
- If you are brewing with the Dianhong broken tea, you can add some milk, sugar, honey, or lemon slices for flavoring, to make it taster more charming;
How To Store Dianhong Tea In A Proper Way
The traditional Dianhong tea belongs to completed-fermented tea. It is not very suitable for aging, and the expiration life typically is 18-36 months. It’s better to finish consume in the year because every time you take out the tea, it may let the aroma lose. The longer time it stores, the more fragrance it loses.
To store Dianhong tea well is easy. Most Dianhong tea is sold with an aluminum foil sealing package; what you need to do is just put it in a tin container with an excellent airtightness. Cover it well and store it in a dark, dry, cool, and ventilated place.
Related Reading: How To Pick A Suitable Tea Storage Container.
The new process(sun-drying) Dianhong tea, which is trending in recent years, is suitable for aging. A right way aging will let the tea get a brand new and unique flavor.
The method is just like aging Pu-erh tea. The storage container must get certain breathability, better to pick a purple sand can. Package it with a rice paper after covering it, to prevent the leaves from moldy by damp. The storage place also needs to be dark, ventilated, and dry, but the temperature should not be too low. Typically, sun-drying Dinghong needs to aging for one year to drink.