Man Le Sun-Dried Red (曼勒曬乾紅茶, Màn Lē Shài Qián Hóng Chá, "Man Le Sun-Dried Red Tea") - This is a fresh red tea from Man Le, Li Shulin's new home. He relocated there after his home on Nannuo Mountain was destroyed by a fire in 2021. While he still maintains his plots on Nannuo Mountain and is still making tea from them, he has also begun using the local Man Le plants to make Sheng and Shu Pu'er, as well as Red Tea.
Man Le was a growing region of the Menghai Tea Factory in the mid 20th century. It was abandoned in the 1970s and the plants that currently grow there are the seed-propagated plants (and descendants thereof) that have been growing there since that time. Many of these plants are feral and grow in the midst of the local pine trees.
This tea has ended up being one of our favorites among the new Man Le teas from Li Shulin. It's balanced, sweet, malty, and has a distinctive fruity character and silky mouthfeel.
West China Tea has never disappointed me with their red teas and this is no exception. If you’ve had their gushu hong cha this is a must-try. It has a deep, energetic body with a nice zippy energy that lingers in the throat with notes that remind me, personally, of plums, raisins, a slight touch of camphor, and wood. It’s very fruit-forward in the first few steeps, and the dry leaf smells very strongly of some sort of dried fruits. It’s smooth, it’s bold, it was easy to brew, and at no point did it gain a woody bitterness. As the fruit notes faded a deeper sweet energy emerged and brought a new character to the tea; I got 8 steeps from this. I look forward to picking up more. This is a gem, especially for the cost.