Site-Wide Activity Forums Tea Conversations Hei Cha, or Dark Tea – hype or truly “different?”

7 replies, 5 voices Last updated by  Anonymous 6 years, 6 months ago
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  • #6312

    Anonymous @

    I just got a Fu Brick in the mail.  It wasn’t a clever message strapped to a cinder block, but a large rectangular “log” of what’s called Dark Tea.  One of my local tea sources carries 6 different kinds of this “dark” tea, and has been discussing it or marketing it as something that’s mysterious or different from Pu-Er, but the more I research, the more I’m finding that, while it is it’s own category, it’s still very much like Pu-Er in that it’s post-fermented and aged.  The only difference might be that it has different pro-biotic properties.

    I thought I’d throw this question to the experts here on the ‘Trade.  Is Hei Cha ‘truly’ something in a class unto itself, or is it regarded more as another variety of Pu-Er – by the folks who aren’t necessarily trying to get otherwise naive Americans to purchase it?

    The idea of there being a seperate ‘category’ or another class of post-fermented tea is intriguing, but I’m skeptical of it being marketed as something totally different from pu-er when, from all accounts I’ve read so far, the taste, steep, and aging experiences don’t appear to be much different.

    Haven’t torn into my brick yet for my first cup. Any thoughts?

  • #6313


    Off the top of my head @yaya might have an answer to this. Or @gingkoseto . They are both very knowledgable & experienced. Of course @lazyliteratus @lochantea @cazort might have thoughts too. Or anyone else? 

    Personally I’d say Puer is under Hei Cha so to speak, Hei Cha being post fermented “black” tea, Puer being black, post fermented from Yunnan province. Although it gets a little more complicated with Sheng Puer. There are lots of different varieties of Hai Cha, not all are Puer. For example Tibetan Hai Cha, so not Puer. I’d say Puer is the most well known Hai Cha variety. 

    Anyway, this is simplified, I’m sure others have more to say, with more insight to offer. Over to you!
  • #6315


    it was only my visit to Liu Da Cha Shan office in kunming which made me sit up and take notice of whatever going on in Yunnan and pu’er and hei and tou cha in Hunan and Sichuan – the areas specific to these teas – and I am doing experiments on my own body along with two persons in my office as genie pigs – results so far are tremendous and will soon start writing about them

    please wait for me…
  • #6316


    The only thing I know about Hei Cha is that it is post-fermented tea. Like pu-erh but obviously different. Not prepared the same way as sheng or shou pu…but still undergoing a similar composting. This was done for the long deliveries to places such as Tibet. That’s all I know.

  • #6317

    Anonymous @

    @jackie sums it up really well and most of the previous comments are correct: Hei Cha is a broad category of Chinese tea, equivalent to oolong or green tea. Pu-erh is a member of the Hei Cha category. Other popular teas in this category include the mentioned Fu Cha and Hunan Dark Tea.
    All Hei Cha is post-fermented and most are compressed into different shapes.

    But addressing the original issue: to describe Fu Cha as distinctly different from pu-erh isn’t just marketing hype. Try it and you will discover that it is indeed very different from pu-erh (although maybe not as different as white tea is from black tea). Fu Cha contains a beneficial fungus called Eurotium Cristatum (or Golden Flower) which gives it a unique flavor and aroma. Fu Cha is very popular in China and has been the subject of various medical studies, mainly related to its function to inhibit blood sugar and cholesterol.
    About a year ago, I wrote a fairly exhaustive blog post about Fu Cha.

  • #6318

    Anonymous @

    Thanks to all for the replies and my apologies for posing the question and then being absent for a few days (holidays and work!)
    I will be trying my Fu Cha brick this evening and will try to get a post on what I think and pictures.  Based on the responses, I that the vendor might be marketing it ‘properly’ – it’s not as available here in the States, I suppose I should thank my lucky stars that a local vendor has it available to try.  I’ve tried a few pu-ers in my time, so I’m hoping I might be able to discern at least if there’s a flavor difference.  I don’t have my microscope handy to look at the probiotic features.

  • #6319


    Wow, I was way off. Thanks @yaya for clearing all that up.

  • #6320

    Anonymous @

    Here’s a quick write-up about my first steepings of the abovementioned Fu Brick.

    It’s not what I was expecting, but in a good way.  More approachable for mainstream palates than Pu-er – I still prefer Pu-er because I like strong tea, but this is a good changeup.  The brick I purchased is particularly on the green end of the dark tea spectrum, so it wouldn’t likely appeal to folks who don’t like senchas and those types of flavor profiles, but it’s definitely a good sip.  The vendor I ordered from has other varieties labeled in the ‘Dark Tea/Not Pu-Er’ spectrum, so I’m looking forward to trying those soon, but I’ll be working my way through this brick over the Holidays.


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