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Hunan Special: Thirst growing for Hunan's fermented dark tea

Hunan Special: Thirst growing for Hunan's fermented dark tea

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  • (Summary description)The dark tea popular in China's western region during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is now enjoying a revival in both domestic and overseas markets.

    Hunan Special: Thirst growing for Hunan's fermented dark tea

    (Summary description)The dark tea popular in China's western region during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is now enjoying a revival in both domestic and overseas markets.

    • Categories:Company news
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    • Time of issue:2020-04-94 10:37
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      — 2020 —
      04/03
      10:37
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    01

    Liu Xin'an (left), general manager of Baishaxi Tea Industry Co Ltd, presents dark tea to a Romanian official. Provided To China Daily

    The dark tea popular in China's western region during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is now enjoying a revival in both domestic and overseas markets.

    Not as widely known as many other varieties - and often mistaken for black tea - dark tea is named for leaves that blacken after special treatment. It only grows in China, with about 60 percent of it produced in the central province of Hunan.

    Yet Hunan residents themselves don't usually drink it. Instead, the tea is popular in remote, border areas that are home to ethnic groups.

    Their preference is due to the belief that dark tea can offset surplus fat in a diet of mostly meat and milk.

    It is also known as brick tea due to the compressed shape merchants used for easier transport over long distances.

    Dark tea was discovered by accident, according to Chinadarktea.com. When shipped north on the sea and then along the Silk Road in ancient times, humid air caused dried leaves to ferment and develop a strong aroma. The change also gave the tea greater longevity.

    Today the tea is processed differently than other varieties to replicate the flavor.

    Tea leaves are heated, kneaded and twisted, then sprinkled with water and placed in huge piles under cloth to ferment before being dried.

    After treatment, the tea takes on a dark black color. Once brewed, it has a strong aroma with a thick flavor. The taste and aroma are said to improve with age.

    But compared to Longjing, Hunan's dark tea is not well known - a situation local tea makers expect to change.

    Baishaxi Tea Industry Co Ltd, based in the birthplace of dark tea in Anhua county of Hunan province, is one of the major producers. Established in 1939, the company has created various kinds of dark tea.

    Together with other Hunan tea companies, Baishaxi started a tour earlier this month to promote dark tea in Europe. Destinations included Hungry, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey, the Ukraine and Russia.

    At the third stop of the tour in Bucharest, Romanian government officials and local red wine makers gathered to appreciate dark tea from Hunan. A precious type named Qianliang caught their attention.

    Qian in the name means one thousand and liang refers to China's old measurement of weight - about 32 liang to a kilogram. The tea got its name because it is shaped in rolls that each weigh about 1,000 liang.

    The secret recipe for Qianliang used to belong to a family in Anhua. It was later hand-made exclusively by Baishaxi in the 1950s and sold according to a government distribution plan. In 1958 the company began mechanized production and stopped making Qianliang.

    In the late 1990s, Baishaxi resumed production of Qianliang to meet demands from overseas enthusiasts. The tea is now mainly sold in Southeast Asia, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

    Today, Baishaxi's plantation covers more than 4 million square meters. Its two production lines have combined capacity to produce 5,000 tons of dark tea each year.

    In 2010, its dark tea was selected among China's 10 most famous teas and displayed in the United Nation Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

    As a distinct symbol of Hunan's traditional culture and craftsmanship, it is now one of the most favored presents from local residents to friends at home and abroad.

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    吉祥新材料

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    黑茶之源 遍流九洲

    Hunan Provincial Baishaxi Tea Industry Co.,ltd

    ADD:Baisha community.xiaoyan town.anhua county.hunan
    TEL:400-098-1939   0737-7621002
    FAX:0737-7621177
    Email:
    baishaxitea@163.com

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