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Category: Hei (Dark)Tea

AnHua Dark Tea

Being a half Hunanist by birth, I felt so guilty of not knowing enough about Hunan and the black gold, Anhua Dark Tea. Autumn last year, finally I got my chance. In a very intensive root searching visit to ChangSha, Ivo and I managed to have a very short visit to Anhua for three days.

Due to the limit of time so we could only visited Liu Bu Xi village and observed the production of mysterious dark tea production, and of course we have opportunities to taste plenty authentic fine tastes of Anhua Dark Tea during our visit. Unfortunately the visit was too short, but plenty fine memories still in my heart every time I make myself a cup of Anhua dark tea.

What attracted us the most are not how fine in flavors and tastes from Anhua Dark Tea in that short visit, but more over on how the local people coherently forge a harmony bonding relationships through mutual respect with the Nature, and how the local people persistently preserve the old traditions in tea production know-how.

Anhua Dark Tea actually has over 2000 years stories in China history and was a well known border trading tea with Tibet since Ming Dynasty. There is a widely spread and well known legend about Anhua Dark Tea:

On the ancient Silk Road, one day a caravans that transported tea encountered rain and tea got drenched and moist. The tea merchants, of course, were very upset, but it was pity to throw it away so they went to a village, hopefully to rest and to dry the drenched tea. But at that time, many villagers died from dysentery and they have nothing to eat or drink. The tea merchants gave the tea to sicked and poor villagers. The result was splendid, villagers were all healed by drinking tea. Since then Anhua Dark Tea is known for its medicinal effects.

Today there are many international scientist research institutes are conducting research on dark tea to health. There are few unique characters we do can mention here:

  1. Even though it does not have very sexy and delightful flavors but it tastes sweet and smooth
  2. It comforts the stomach with its gentle sweetness and smoothness tastes
  3. It keeps the stomach and body warm
  4. Those who love black tea would easily fall in love with Anhua dark tea
  5. It tastes good with or without milk. To those who concern the cholesterol, of course, should consider to drink it straight and pure without milk.
  6. The flavors and tastes get better with the post-fermentation storaging, under appropriate conditions. Holds a great potential for value appreciation.

The production process of Anhua Dark Tea can be grouped in four major steps: Tossing, Rolling, Staking and heaping for microbial fermentation through moist heat. In the microbial fermentation process, secret of golden flowers are developed.

Dark tea is not only not yet very known in Europe or North America, even in China there are lots of misunderstanding. Honestly speaking, Dark tea has always been, which is still today, remains as an uncovered black gold that you should give yourself a chance to experience its tastes.

Each tea has it unique territorial characters that we need to learn to respect and appreciate. A physical tasting experience is extremely important to promote Dark Tea. There are plenty stories to discover behind the tea leaf, starting from the Nature, tea trees, hard working people, wisdom in tea production and urban culture and living rituals that people in Anhua are still holding on today.

Join me to discover the secret of golden flowers from Anhua dark tea. I can’t help to expect my next exploration to AnHua soon again.

Liu Bao Dark Tea

Liu Bao is one unique tea in the Dark Tea (Hei Cha黑茶) type with long history that reveals the unique minority tribe culture from the Bouxcuengh.  Liu Bao is made from the Guanxi large-to-medium sized tea tree cultivar, the reason why it’s named to Liu Bao because it’s from Liu Bao country, Wuzhou, Guanxi province, China.  The average altitude of the region is between 1000-1500 meters.  The unique high mountain ecological balanced environment provides Liu Bao an excellent growing conditions, i.e. the yearly average temperature is abt. 21℃; the yearly average rainfall is abt. 1500mm, direct sunshine time is short and the tea region is almost the whole year round surrounded by cloud.

Liu Bao is made from the 1 bud with 2-3, sometimes 3-4 leaves.  Once leaves were plucked, tea farmers must finish the production in the same day.  Liu Bao is processed according to the sequence of Tea fixing -> Rolling ->  Piling (fermentation) -> repeat rolling -> drying (roasting).  How roasting method in the drying process is managed and the selection of woods are playing critical roles to the flavor and taste.

Liu Bao contains very rich Vitamin C, Polyphonel and Nicotinic Acid compounds. According to various researches, Liu Bao can aid to reduce fat, lower blood pressure, stimulate blood circulation and enhance the immunity system: 1) help digestion 2) reduce blood sugar 3) anti-aging 4) anti-bacteria.  The taste of Liu Bao is very gentle to stomach.

But it is like for all tea, consume too much and too strong tea might cause headache syndrome as tea drunk.  Therefore we highly suggest to limit the daily consumption to 3g-5g.  It’s not tea causes the health problems, it is because people don’t know how to consume correctly. Those who have sleeping problem should certainly pay extra attention on how to brew and how much to drink a day.

Tea Tasting Report 

The following taboo should also be avoided when drinking Liu Bao:

  • Carefully select the matching tea ware. Ceramic and Porcelain tea ware are good match for Liu Bao
  • Cast iron tea pot is not to be used to boil or brew tea.
  • Selecting and maintaining appropriate storage environment, avoid place where has bad odor
  • The best storage jar for dark tea should allow air permeability
  • Avoid direct sun light and pay attention to the humidity

Brewing suggestions:

  • Water temperature: 95-99°C
  • 3g-5g subject to the personal preference to taste
  • Rinse leaves with hot water
  • The soaking time: short and sexy (7-10 seconds)
  • When the taste is getting weak, then can consider to increase the soaking time.

Shape  Long twitted shape


  • Dried leaves: dark
  • Tea Liquid: rich amber red


  • There is a very mild and distance woody note as from Camphor with the blend of Areca Catechu or kind of mint.
  • After the rinsing, besides the woody note and the coolness from the Areca Catechu, also have notes of sea wood and peat moss.


The unique character of Liu Bao is it does not have very impulsive and strong taste. It’s very easy and pleasant to drink  because of its dried sweetness. The soft and calm taste allow us to sense the depth of wisdom of acceptance and tolerance in the “Wood Element” from the Five Elements.

©copyright of Mei Lan Hsiao, Belgium Chinese Tea Arts Centre / Belgium Chinese Tea Culture Association +32-494506899

2001 Liu Bao Dark tea

Why Chinese call black4_102G0101259C tea as Red Tea (Hong Cha)? The answer is quick simple:

  1. Because the color of tea is more rich redish Amber to Brownish red instead of nearly black dark brown color.
  2. Because there is a separate tea category as Black tea (Hei Cha) in Chinese. Since the name of black tea has already been used for Red Tea (Hong Cha) in English, so the Chinese Hei Cha can also be named and known as Dark Tea.

P_20160520_120851Many people know Puerh tea from Yunnan as Dark Tea, but actually there are also other well known post-fermented Dark teas from other provinces, for example

  • Liu Bao from from Wuzhou, Guanxi
  • Fu Cha from Anhua, Hunan
  • Ya An Hei Cha from Sichuan

Why dark tea is known as black tea in Chinese? It’s simple, as you can see that the color of dried leaves is almost like black. It does not nice look shape or fine aroma like what we can notice from green tea, oolong or black tea (red tea); but you will be amazed by its flavour and taste.

All Black Tea (Dark tea) share a same unique process, that’s post-fermentation, tea can be stored for almost forever (the taste and value increased by its natural aging process) and the flavour and taste can be transformed amazingly, fine and gentle. The biggest difference of these traditional Dark Tea (Hei P_20160521_111709Cha) from Puerh is, in Puerh it is further divided in Raw and Ripped, but in other Hei Cha, there is only one, the full and post-fermented quality; some are compressed into cake or brick, and some not.  For example Liu Bao is in loose package.

  • Vision : very dried dark almost black color.  The tea color is kind of mixture of organe with copper brown; clarity and rich.
  • Flavour: no much aroma from dried leaves, but once it’s being warmed up in pot, then there is a notion of fungus with the mixture of woody and dried plum flavour
  • Taste: Mild, smooth with a notion of sweetness, easy to drink.  Due to the post fermentation, so there is no very strong after taste punch up in the mouth except the taste of sweetness and smoothness.

Brewing Suggestion:

  • 1g vs. 50ml water
  • water temperature: 95-99 Celsius
  • matching teaware: nakked ceramic teapot or porcelain gaiwan
  • Steeping: 1min. (subject to the preference of your taste)
  • Drinking : Don’t hurry up to drink the tea from your cup especially with the dark tea (black tea), the flavour is getting even more finer when the temperature drops to about 80-85 Celsius.


2001 Liu Bao Cha

Image result for 六堡茶

Liu Bao Cha, also known as LiuPao Cha,  is another unique Dark tea (Hei Cha in Chinese means Black Tea), a speciality from Liu Bao, Chang Wu Xian in the autonomous region by the minority Zhuang tribe, it is another drinkable antique same as Puerh tea from Yunnan. Liu Bao Cha is made from fresh leaves from the mid-sized leaves of Camelliasinensis (L.)O.Kuntze, it is picked either 1 bud with 1 leaf or 1 bud with 3-4 leaves, the picking time is in March to November.


Reddish color, betel nuts flavour, smooth with strength taste

It has long history that can trace way back to 1500 to 2000 years in Chinese history. It is known by its unique betel nuts flavour and the noticeable special characters of rich red color, with earthy flavour, with mellow but strengthened astringent after taste; regardless is Sheng (Raw) or Shou (Ripped), the color of leaves after being brewed is all in shinning reddish or dark brown.

The content of Polyphenols in Liu Bao Cha is almost as rich as found in the big-leaves Puerh from MongKu, Yunnan:

  • AnHua Hei Cha : 22.6%
  • MongKu Puerh : 33.8%
  • Liu Bao Hei Cha: 32.4%

It has the highest content of Amino acides:

  • AnHua Hei Cha: 2.9%
  • MongKu Puerh: 1.7%
  • Liu Bao Hei Cha: 3.0%

The content of caffeine is also relatively high, therefore the brewing of Liu Bao Cha requires some special attention:

  • AnHua Hei Cha : 4.1%
  • MongKu Puerh: 4.1%
  • Liu Bao Hei Cha: 4.4%

Even though the caffeine in dark tea is higher than found in green, white or black tea, but the good news with the aging transformation in the post-fermentation process, the content of caffeine is weakened.

Liu Bao Cha has benefits to those who have problem with hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high blood viscosity, high cholesterol and high triglycerides), high blood sugar (diaetes), high uric acid that cause gout psychosis crowd.  It has effects to ease heat and dampness, laxative flooding dysentery, cellulite blood pressure, and has hypoglycemi sedative effects.

 Liu Bao Cha has been appreciated by many Chinese and Chinese migrants live in South East Asia through the Ocean Silkroad in the last Qing Dynasty.

Here are some useful tips about brewing:

  1. Using very warm water, the higher temperature the better.
  2. Wash the tea leaves twice, as quick as you can.
  3. Keep the infusion time short and sexy (5-10 seconds or 10-20 seconds subject to the water temperature)
  4. Don’t hurry to drink when it’s still very warm, drink it at the suitable temperature, +/- 40 degree


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