Thousand Ounce Hei Cha (千兩黑茶, Qiān Liǎng Hēi Chá, “Thousand Liang Dark Tea")- This fermented tea hails from Anhua, Hunan. This jumbo-size 650+ gram disc is not technically a bing in the same way as pressed pu'er or white teas - it is a cross-section of a long pillar of tea, wrapped in palm fronds and woven bamboo. Called "Qian Liang Cha" or "Thousand Ounce Tea", a single unit of this tea weighs 1000 liang, an ancient Chinese unit of measure equaling 31.2 modern grams. It is pressed around the time of the mid-Autumn festival and takes 9 people to process and press a single pillar. The starting material is the second-highest grade of Hunan Heicha fermented using the wo dui 渥堆 ("wet piling") technique. This family of fermented teas is collectively known as "Hua Juan" and comes in different denominations, including "Ten Ounce" and "Hundred Ounce" versions.
Due to the high pressure of the hand-tightened bamboo wrapping around palm fronds, the exterior texture of the cake has the appearance of a cross-section of wood. The surface is flat and smooth from being cut with a sharp saw and, because the leaves are oriented vertically in the pillar, tea can be broken off of the disc from the edge (the way one would break a piece off of a cookie) without breaking the leaves.
This 2015 vintage has a deep, malty taste with a satisfying mouthfeel. Lighter in color and viscosity than shu pu'er, hua juan have a tannic, woody quality that is characteristic of the grade.