The origins of our Dian Hong Chinese black tea
Hailing from China's mountainous Yunnan province, our single origin Dian Hong is a beautiful curled leaf tea offering a stunning sunset-orange coloured infusion with deep caramel and cocoa notes. Strong enough to stand the addition of a little milk or sugar, this Chinese black tea is also delicious drunk on its own.
Harvested in early spring from the indigenous Taliensis varietal of the Camellia sinensis tea plant, the tea leaves of our single-origin Dian Hong originate from Yang Ta village, which sits at an elevation of 1,600m in Yunnan, south-west China. Its long, curled leaves have numerous golden tips and impart complex yet balanced cocoa-floral flavours with hints of honey and apricot. Enjoy this loose-leaf tea in the afternoon for a subtly sweet treat, or around lunchtime with a cheese and charcuterie board.
All black teas from Yunnan are generally referred to as Dian Hong, translating to 'Yunnan red'. In fact, all black teas are called red tea in China – referring to their colour when properly processed. Grown at high altitude in one of China's most biologically diverse regions, the characteristic Dian Hong brews are known for being particularly high in the antioxidant-rich plant compounds called polyphenols, which research has shown to have numerous health benefits.
Yunnan – the birthplace of Tea
The history of tea-making in Yunnan goes back millennia, and indeed this south-western Chinese province is known as the birthplace of tea. One story has it that Shen Nung, or Shennong, the mythical original emperor of ancient China, discovered the drink when a leaf from a Camellia sinensis bush dropped into his pot of boiling water. However, historians more reliably date the tea drinking culture to the Shang and Zhou dynasties of Bronze Age China, so potentially as far back as 1600 BC, although the habit really took root across China during the Tang dynasty (618-906AD).
Nature has helped make tea a success in Yunnan, where the rugged mountain ranges, varied climate and lush subtropical slopes have proved ideal growing conditions. As a result, most Dian Hong teas are harvested from cultivars of the assamica variety of tea bush called daye (big leaf). Generally smoother and less astringent than their subcontinental cousins, these teas first became popular for export in the 1930s, between the World Wars. Meanwhile, Yunnan's most famous brews remain the fermented teas known as Pu Erh.
Explore other deliciously unique black teas
Chinese teas offer tea novices and connoisseurs alike wonderful diversity and complexity. For another black tea with sweet, smoky characters try our Keemun from China's Anhui province. Wuyi Shui Xian is a Chinese oolong with a harmonious mix of smooth caramel and fruity notes, or you could try the mildly smoky and nutty Phoenix Honey Orchid oolong from Guangdong. Alternatively, our Oriental Beauty Taiwanese tea is another exceptional style that combines sweet yet aromatic characters.
For a full range of Chinese black, oolong, Pu Erh, white and green teas, see our Tea Shop, where you'll find a selection available by the caddy or in our biodegradable Triune teabags. While you're browsing, why not check out our traditional gaiwan teaware – perfect for infusing your favourite Chinese brews.