Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ying De Hong Cha

Ying de hong, or ying hong, is a red (black, for us westerners) tea from Guangdong, China. All the sources I checked agree that it was introduced in 1959 in the town/city of Ying De. I don't know how I missed this tea; a few of the tea sites I frequent carry it, but I had not heard of it until recently, when Aroma Tea Shop offered to send me samples. Given my love for dian hong, I was quite curious and not a little happy when a rep from Red Circle Tea offered to send me a sample as well, ostensibly for comparison.

First up is the Ying De Gold #9 from Red Circle. The leaves are from a particular varietal that is crossbred from Yunnan big leaf and Feng Huang.

I used my standard brewing method for hong cha, 3 grams/8 oz for 4 minutes.

The dry leaves are attractive, long and wiry with khaki coloring. When placed in a heated pot, there is a sweet, dark grain-ish aroma that makes me think of raisin bran of all things. The taste is reminiscent of a good dian hong, without the maltiness. I get strong notes of warm honey. There is a thin mouth feel, but not as thin as a Keemun or Ceylon.

I also tried the brewing instructions that came with the tea, steeping the tea 15-45 seconds in a gaiwan. The focus of this method seems to be to on multiple infusions, the instructions say up to six. It produced a lighter brew, less intense flavor. I prefer my hong cha stronger than this.

The wet leaves remind me of Wuyi yan cha.

I enjoyed this tea, but to be honest, I think the price is a bit much for 2 oz.

The ying de from Aroma wasn't as pleasing over all. I have had it three times, now, and each time it was different.

The first time it kept shifting, reminding me of a keemun one moment and of an assam the next; at one point I picked up on a little fruit. The second cup tasted a bit like an "orchid" oolong I had once. The cup I just finished was fairly nondescript. Over all it never settled on any characteristics that set it apart from any other black tea.

You can see the wet leaves of the two ying de side-by-side for comparison.

I'd like to say thank you to both vendors for the samples. My curiosity is still piqued, and I'll have to try some other varieties of ying de in the future.


Bamboo Forest said...

I love the color of the tea.

Salsero said...

I've only tried one Ying De so far. It was called "Ying De Red, Bai Lu Day" and came from Jing. I found it excessive sweet and cloying. Only one other China Black has ever given me that impression of excess sweetness (a Formosan black called Shui Sa-Lian from HouDe), and I had both around the same time, so I suppose it could have been something to do with me rather than the tea itself.
I mailed both of them off to Andy for a second opinion and I think he wound up feeding them to his father.

So... what I am trying to get around to asking is this question: did you find any very sweet sensation in either of these examples of Ying De?

Also, where did you get that extraordinary looking teapot and how big is it?

Space Samurai said...

It definitely has a natural sweetness to it, but I wouldn't describe it as cloying. A buddy dian hong would be sweeter.

:) The teapot is my kabuse ushirode made by Shimizu Genji. I bought it from Rishi last year. Its 350 ml or 11.8 oz.

I love it dearly; it has an earthy elegance, I think.

Salsero said...

Well, I interpret your comments to mean that the 2 Ying De you tried are not as sweet as the one in my experience, because I have never had a Dian Hong anything near that kind of profile.

So the pot is actually Japanese. I took it for a Chinese Yixing style pot -- and it's so BIG. What size are those cute little cups then? 5 or 6 ounces? I feel like you are living in a world of giants out there in Texas.

I do agree about the earthy elegance. It is a beauty to behold.

Space Samurai said...

:), yes, Tokoname pots, at least all of the ones I've seen, are larger than typical chinese pots used for gongfu, between 9-13 oz. I like making tea in 8 oz when I'm not gongfu-ing, so this is one of the things I like about Tokoname pots.

The cups are 2 oz.

That one chick said...

What sort of foods do you think would go well with Ying de?