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Anhua Heicha: “Anhua Dark Tea”

Anhua Heicha

Anhua Heicha (安化黑茶) is a dark tea variety from Anhua County in Hunan Province. The name of the tea means nothing more than dark tea from Anhua, or “Anhua Dark Tea”. There are a number of variations depending on the grade of the tea leaves used, and on the compressing techniques: Their names are Tianjian Tea, Huajuan Tea, and Dark Brick Tea

Anhua Heicha: “Anhua Dark Tea” fact sheet

Geography

The misty and mountainous regions of Anhua County in Central China offer ideal conditions for growing tea.  This beautiful region is also crossed by a multitude of small rivers and has one of the world’s biggest accumulation of moraine.

History

The expression “dark tea” was used for the first time during the 16th century, specifically for designating fermented teas from Anhua. The unique taste resulting from the combination of smoking and fermenting have made it a looked for specialty. At times, there was an imperial tea garden in nowadays Gaoma’erxi Village

Production steps

These are some of the key steps for its production:

  • Spreading out
  • Kill-green (pan roasting)
  • Rolling
  • Smoking over pine wood
  • (pile-fermenting)
  • Steaming
  • Compressing

Appearance

While the shape of the compressed teas may vary a lot, their processed tea leaves all share a dark-green colour. The older they become, the more they tend towards becoming brown.

Flavour

Smokiness and sweetness are certainly the two biggest gustatory qualities. Depending on multiple factors (grade of leaves, processing technique, age, … ), they can be more or less pronounced. The smokiness should not be too strong and should not completely dominate. The smoking of the tea leaves is a delicate operation and requires a lot of skills from the artisan. While some variations are made with fully grown leaves, these should not be too coarse. This is a problem with inferior quality products.

 

The picture above shows a slice cut from a log of Huajuan Tea.

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