Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is part of the June 2017 expansion pack from Global Tea Hut. Global Tea Hut focused on red teas in June which are meant to be brewed gongfu style. The issue is focused on an exquisite Qimen red tea. This tea is meant to contrast, and is supposed to be of higher quality.
I noticed that the dry leaves are quite long and it has a fairly strong aroma. I would describe this aroma as being somewhat smokey.
Brewing Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong from Global Tea Hut
Since this is a finer tea and I only received 25 grams, I decided to brew this with a yixing tea pot. Specifically, its an electric fired yixing tea pot with a little higher profile. I have found this teapot to be very good with red teas.
I used about 2.5 grams for a yixing teapot that can hold roughly 120ml of water. If I were to brew this with a gaiwan that can hold 150ml of water, I would likely double the amount of leaf. I have found that yixing teapots, while slightly smaller and more expensive than gaiwans, are incredibly efficient in brewing tea.
I gave the tea a rinse of about 15 seconds, with a temperature of around 90 degrees celcius. The first infusion was about 20 seconds, and I incremented the subsequent infusion times by 5-10 seconds. Overall, I did 8 infusions. This tea was incredibly patient, so I think I could have done even more infusions.
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong has reddish liquour that is slightly paler than the Qimen red (Red Sun Rising), but the initial infusions had a strong taste. The smokey aroma from the dry leaves became more refined in taste. Rather than just being smoky, it takes on a more distinct mesquite like taste. This is likely the result from smoke drinking from pine trees. This smokiness started to die down at around the 4th infusion. The smokiness of Zheng Shang Xiao Zhong is accompanied with fruity undertones, and is quite sweet. The after taste is nice and lingers for a few minutes.
The tea has a really splash effect on the back pallet of the mouth, compared to the qimen red. The qi is definitely yang and uplifting, and more pronounced than the qimen red.This is definitely a fine tea.
Not everyone might like the initial smokiness of the intial infusions, but if one is patient and waits for the later infusions, one will be quite surprised. Taste and aroma set aside, its mouthfeel and qi really stand out. This is a great example of a red tea from the living tea tradition.
If one has some experience of trying other gongfu red teas, like qimen, this comparison will really highlight why this tea is fine.