2020 Nannuo Sun-Dried Red Mini Bing (曬乾紅茶小餅, Shài Gān Hóng Chá Xiǎo Bǐng, "Sun-Dried Red Tea Little Bing") This tea is made from the big leaf varietal of the Yunnan tea plant that is used to make Pu'er. It differs in process from Pu'er and most process of red tea in that it is never cooked. Instead the fresh leaves are rolled and massaged, breaking the cell walls and releasing the enzyme polyphenol oxidase which catalyzes the oxidation of the leaves. The tea leaves are massaged between one and three times over the course of the day and left in the shade to rest in between. By nightfall the green leaves have turned brick red. The oxidation gives this tea its refreshingly light astringency and its deep, sweet woody character.
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To me this tastes more like a honk Kong stored shou puerh with a slight sweetness than it does a hongcha. There are notes of leather and wood like in the description. This is strong stuff, just 4 grams goes a long way. I have had it twice so far and each time it delivers a powerful punch of qi.