Updated: Feb 17
I have drunk black tea most of my life. Being Turkish and having grown up in Turkey, brewing and drinking black tea from the Black Sea region was an indispensable part of my life. However, the cultivation of the has a very short history. Only in 1924 (a year after the Republic of Turkey was founded), a law was passed to allow tea cultivation in Rize, a city in the Black Sea region with the seeds coming from Georgia. This attempt was to ease Turks and minorities’ thrust towards coffee which had become scarce and expensive as Ottomans lost their coffee-producing territories in Yemen. This policy was extremely successful and in such a short time, tea became very popular. What is important to note here is that the mainstream type of Turkish tea is a factory processed black tea. More recently, green and white varieties are also processed but their production remains negligible. After drinking so many excellent Chinese teas including Feng Qing black tea, I do think that the introduction of tea in Turkey was focused on quantity rather than quality and the leaves were processed in government owned factories. Therefore, there is room for improvement of Turkish tea cultivation, processing and brewing. However, the tea is so embedded in the culture in its current form that any change may fail unless the taste buds of tea drinkers go through an evolution themselves. I believe that there is a need for a tea revolution in Turkey (but also elsewhere) and we have a lot to learn from Chinese, who undoubtedly perfected tea cultivation, processing, brewing and drinking over the centuries. For Chinese, tea is certainly "not just a cuppa".
In my view, Feng Qing can easily satisfy Western palates that are used to drinking black tea. Even those who drink tea with sugar. Don’t get me wrong, Feng Qing is naturally sweet like other Yunnan blacks (e.g. Yunnan Dian Hong, Lincang) and it offers a wide range of complex tasting notes. I think this would be a good contender to introduce anybody to fine, pure and artisanal teas.
Its name comes from the mountainous Feng Qing city which is home to ecological tea gardens with wild ancient trees. The soil is enriched by decomposed leaves and fruits of wild plants that are endemic to the area. This makes the tea’s taste profile complex, enduring and pungent.
Soon I will write about another Feng Qing black tea that I have recently tried. It was pressed into a mini tea cake and had a more mature and earthy flavour compared to this one. Stay tuned!
Origin: Feng Qing County, Lincang City, Yunnan Province
Harvest time: Early spring 2019
Leave colour: Black with some red shades
Liquor colour: Deep amber
Tea aroma: Floral and woody
Tea taste: Overall smooth and complex with cocoa, tobacco, and fruity undertones and sweet aftertaste
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 36 months (to improve shelf-life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, ventilated place with low temperatures and away from odour)