Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong

tea cup

In my last post I shared with you some information about Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong.

A young monk asked the wise tea master Lao Cha:

Oh my, Teacher, what is this great tea that we are drinking?!

It’s the father of all the Red Teas – Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. This tea comes from the famous Wuyi Mountain in Fujian, where it grows wild, covered from the harsh sun by rich forest and year-round mist. Pay respect to its rich history while enjoying its sweet taste and longans’ aroma.

In my cup

The dry leaves were a dark grey/ blackish color and were very thin and wiry with a few golden tips. They had a very soft fragrance of chocolate and also oddly enough on first “whiff” I thought blackberries and something vaguely floral at the same time?  And on top of those notes was a faint malty and slightly smoky/tobacco- y aroma.


I used about 2-3 grams in my Yixing pot, and the water was at 190 degrees. I steeped the tea for three minutes.


The aroma was combination of light smoke, subtle hints of fruit, wet wood and cocoa. The wet leaves however smelt predominantly of chocolate.  The liquor was a beautiful dark amber color tinged with burgundy edges that seemed to shimmer in the cup. Surprisingly, it tasted of more of dark tart chocolate with hints of fruit, alongside of perhaps a malted milk ball?  Is that possible?  There was no astringency or bitterness and it was smooth, well balanced and had a slight fruity taste that lingered in the back of my throat.

final thoughts

This tea is sometimes referred to as an unsmoked Lapsang Souchang and I must admit that as soon as I read that and then smelt the dry leaves that did have that exotic but unmistakable smoky aroma – I thought oh no! BUT I was pleasantly surprised.  It did have that distinctive, light smokiness, which is a sign of traditional processing, but it was not overpowering, nor did it overwhelm the palate with heavy smoke and ash.  In the end, compared to its classic smoky counterpart, it had a malty and fruity profile with complex dark cocoa notes with a light touch of smokiness. I think this would be the perfect tea for a tea drinker who is getting their first taste of smoky teas.  Not like jumping right into the fire with Lapsang Souchang. It’s a minus 4 for me…I liked it. but would not repurchase.

Rating Scale

tea rating

All teas will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 for dislike and 5 as love:

  1. Dislike (I didn’t like the tea and would not repurchase)
  2. Passable (I didn’t dislike the tea, but I didn’t think it was very good)
  3. Average (I didn’t find it good or bad and would drink it again)
  4. Good (I liked it but it and may repurchase)
  5. Love (I enjoyed it lot and would repurchase

Next…Alan’s Tearoom

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