2017 Pure Wild Fu Zhuan (野生茯磚, Yě Shēng Fú Zhuān, "Wild Fungus Brick") is a variety of heicha exported primarily to the Hui and Mongolian markets and is most commonly found in a one-kilogram brick form. It was originally grown in Anhua, Hunan and processed in Xi’an city. Beginning in 1943, Xi’an processors were sent the tea from Anhua farmers, as a result there are now two types of Fu Zhuan: the traditional Xi’an and the more recent Anhua variety. In the current ranking system of Anhua Hei Cha, it is the lowest grade containing up to 18 percent twigs to leaves by mass ratio. This high twig content results in a less dense brick with more infiltration by air than leafier grades of pressed tea. This allows for the growth of what is known as jīn huā 金花 (“Golden Flower”) or Eurotium cristatum, a probiotic which has metabolic benefits that include regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol and triglycerides. This fungus appears in tiny golden balls throughout the fermented tea and is found specifically in Fú Zhuān. Fú Zhuān is light in color compared to other Hei Chas and has a distinctive sweet taste reminiscent of honey comb and brown rice syrup. This along with its low caffeine content and stomach soothing qualities and mild, sleepy Qi make Fú Zhuān a delightful evening steeping option.
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Out of all the tea styles I've explored, the existence of a probiotic fungus tea never occurred to me. The concept just blew my mind! The tea is caramel honey in color with a sweeter, less earthy scent than pu-erh. In terms of taste, it's difficult to describe but I got malty notes during my later infusions. I enjoyed the experience of brewing this tea!