Behind the Scenes - 2022 Red Dawn | TeaSource
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Behind the Scenes - 2022 Red Dawn

Review: What is Red Dawn?

Mr. Lin Rui Fu, producer of Red Dawn black tea
Mr. Lin on harvest day for 2022 Red Dawn

 

We’ve written about Red Dawn before, but here’s a quick overview. Red Dawn is a black tea from Anxi county in the Fujian province of China. Anxi county is famous for its traditional style of oolong (not black tea). This tea is a combined effort of Daniel Hong (who came up with the idea for Red Dawn during the initial outbreak of coronavirus in 2020) and Mr. Lin Rui Fu (who owns the fields, factories, and skills to pull it off). Red Dawn is combination of unique elements:

  1. It’s a black tea made from a tea cultivar used almost exclusively for oolong production (Huang Jin Gui).
  2. It’s a black tea that combines oolong tea production techniques.
  3. It’s oxidized in 15kg portioned cloth wraps (this is not common in any way).
  4. It is exclusive to TeaSource.

Why does TeaSource now label Red Dawn by year?

  1. Because each year is very different. Each year brings its own set of circumstances and therefore decisions to make. Each set of decisions carried out (and the circumstances that underlie them) bring about different results. It’s the art of tea making. Even though much of the process stays the same each year, we brand each lot of Red Dawn with the year it was made because these are in fact different products.
  2. Red Dawn holds up well over time and therefore we will often be carrying two different lots at the same time. We’re giving you the choice to buy the specific lot you are interested in.

Why does TeaSource care so much about Red Dawn?  Why should I?

Because this tea represents an excellent balance of Chinese black tea characteristics that we feel do not get enough attention. Here’s why we think you should care:

  1. Its production style is very unique, yet the outcome has wide-appeal.
  2. It is very forgiving and presents no astringency when using western methods of tea steeping.
  3. It has great aroma and is perfect for gongfu steeping (which we encourage you to try).
  4. It’s single batch, traditional approach highlights the art of tea making.
  5. It’s a killer tea for the buck!

We are not saying this tea is better or worse than any other Chinese black tea (or any other regions black tea, for that matter). Each tea needs to be judged on its own merits and most importantly on your preferences. We will continue to carry a large variety of black teas from many different regions. But this tea balances character, quality, price, and artistic technique in a way that is rare and worth your attention.

What’s new about 2022 Red Dawn? 

We had initially planned to harvest two lots of leaves this year and combine them. The first harvest would be in mid-late March and these younger leaves would provide better mouthfeel. The second harvest would occur in early April and provide the materials for a better aroma and sweetness. We had not done this in years past. Persistent rains this spring prevented the early harvest so we have only the early April harvest. 

 

To improve the mouthfeel, they employed a third shaking of the leaves. The last two years the leaves were shaken twice. The shaking technique, though standard in oolong tea production, is very rare in black tea. Shaking moves important chemical elements from the stems to the leaves that lower astringency and improve aroma.

 

The initial withering after harvest is usually done outdoors, but the sun was too hot so all withering was done indoors this year. To know whether it’s too hot to wither the leaves outdoors, you simply put your hand to the cement. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for the tea. But for Red Dawn the hot sun is critical during oxidation since the cloth wrapped leaves absorb and trap that radiant heat for beneficial outcomes during this step.

 

 

The current Covid lockdown prevented Daniel from traveling to Anxi this year to oversee production, so it required a more coordinated approach this time. At the time of this writing TeaSource has not received a sample of the 2022 lot, but Daniel and Mr. Lin are very happy with the result. They plan to let the tea settle for one month and then do one more roast to smooth it over. We will update you as soon as we have it in our hands.

In the meantime, check out the limited edition custom packaging for the 2021 Red Dawn!

Red Dawn artwork by YoYo

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