Fuzhuan is the only tea that can grow Eurotium cristatum (aka golden flowers – a type of edible fungus), and this happens because this tea has a different stage in its processing.
When the leaves, stems and twigs are collected, they are firstly withered. And then they are steamed to stop oxidation which is followed by the initial fermentation step called ‘damp piling’. Later the tea leaves are re-steamed and compressed into bricks which are then subject to an additional fermentation process which is also called heaping. During this stage “the spores are dry mixed with a food such as rice flour, barley flour, or wheat flour and then mixed with the dry tea leaves and stems; the mould spores are mixed with a saline solution that is sprayed on the dry leaves and stems, or the mould spores are mixed directly with the dry leaves and stems” as explained by Joseph Wesley in his book 'The Art and Craft of Tea'.
When I was in Hunan, I was told that Hunanese dark teas, including Fuzhuan, are trendy in Xin Jiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet and this relates to their diet which is based on dairy and meat. Since they do not get to eat a lot of veggies, they need something else to digest their food intake. Which happens to be tea.
This was a relatively young fuzhuan brick compared to others I had reviewed. I was expecting vibrant, sharp and astringent notes as I would from a young pu-erh. But instead, I had a very mellow taste of camphor and fruit molasses.
There is a lot more to say about Fuzhuan tea. Stay tuned!
Sources: Joseph Wesley, 'The Art and Craft of Tea'.
Harvest time: 2017
Leaf colour: Tones of brown with visible golden flowers
Liquor colour: Orange
Tea aroma: Fruity
Tea taste: Mellow with camphor and floral undernotes
Steeping/brewing: Place 6 g of this tea in a teapot and add about 100 ml water at around 100°C. Rinse after 3 sec. Steep for 10 seconds for the second time and increase the consecutive steeping time by 5 seconds each time. You can steep this tea multiple times.
Shelf life: Can be aged