A Pine Smoked Tea from Yunnan Sourcing has Great Depth

Tea :      Premium AA Zheng Shan Xian Zhong

Producer:  Yunnan Sourcing

Website: Premium AA Zheng Shan Xian Zhong

Website description:  Our AA grade Premium Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is picked in a 2-day window when the bud/leaf sets are small and tender.  The tea is expertly wilted under the care of the Li family head, who is a 4th generation Wu Yi tea grower and processor.  

The tea itself brews a deep red-gold tea soup which is sweet and fruity, but with a little bitterness to make it stay in the mouth.  Later infusions have an almost apple-like taste.

Mid-April Harvest

Brewing Specs

Water:  240 ml/ approximately 8 oz

Temperature: 195 F

Steep Time: 3 minutes for 3 gm

My Review System: https://artofthepair.com/tea-overview/

My Overall Impression (Score of 88%)

I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of Yunnan Sourcing for a while now and I wanted to try another one of their teas.  This one I purchased a while back as a Spring 21 harvest.  I opened the package to find a deep inviting aroma of toasted, smoky malt with hints of tobacco.  After some research, I found that this is smoked with pine wood giving it its deep dark color (almost red) and beautiful aroma. 

It’s been cold finally in Michigan and this brew review came at the right time.  This is a big deeply extracted tea that has great balanced structure.  I equate it to like drinking a Guiness as it seems like it’s a meal in a glass.  This one shines for food pairing as I tried it with homemade Canadian Bacon, and it was perfect.  I suggest you purchase this one for a terrific value for its quality.

The price as of 1/2/24 is $13.50 for 100 gm (spring 23 harvest).

Broken down:

  • 100 gm / 3 gm for steeping = 33 cups
  • 33 cups from package = 41 cents per cup

Typically, I double steep all my teas (use the tea twice) so I can get 66 cups or approximately 21 cents per cup.  You could get another weaker brew on a third attempt making it an even better value.  However, this is excellent quality and depth for the price.


  • In the bag, dark toasted malt is mixed with tobacco, molasses tones. It reminded me of a charred steak which is from the pine smoke.
  • It also has hints of mustiness, dried bark, toasted/charred wood, and a briny quality (not sure why). There was no fruit detected.
  • Once brewed, it shows a toasted deep malt brew ( a touch of wine essence on first note), followed by brown sugar and a spice blend that reminded me of cloves/ mace/ nutmeg and pepper.
  • Finishing the profile was toasted wood, toasted hazelnuts, compost notes and again some brine.


  • This has a deep toasted malt (reminded me of toasted corn flakes actually) with a roasted meat (beef or pork) essence.
  • It contains hints of herbal (basil/oregano), lemon rind, summer squash hints and a spice blend of nutmeg, allspice, and pepper.
  • This falls in the middle of dry and off dry. You can detect the lack of sweetness but it’s subtle. 
  • The acidity is pronounced at the start but then becomes well integrated with the smooth mouthfeel and creamy tones like a light cream.


  • Aromas (4.3/5)
  • Flavors (8.6/10)
  • Overall impression (4.7/5)
    • Total score = 88 percent (17.6/20)

Foods to Pair and Why

  • I’m a huge fan of this tea and it’s one of the few that I’ve reviewed that instantly I know everything I pair with it should have some red meat as part of the equation. Grilled or heavily sauteed mushrooms would work as well  (for my friends who don’t care for red meats).
  • The other night, I seared duck breasts with some orange infused olive oil, salt and pepper and served this over a bacon saffron risotto.
  • I love to make pig shots as you can use ground beef, sausage, or blends of both on the pellet smoker (yes, I do have one and it works great for this).
  • More and more (it could be a fad) but I’m seeing lots of versions of pork belly burnt ends and frankly, they all look good to me. Just ensure that you get a good smoke on them and limit the sweetness in your sauce to not overpower the tea.
  • For lighter fare, a good grilled steak with the tons of fresh summer squash that I get from the garden each year would be a nice pairing. I’d grill the squash and serve with the steak to provide the smoky charred notes to pair with this brew.
  • For an appetizer, one of my favorites would be to grill some toast points from a baguette sliced and drizzled with olive oil, smeared with some smoked cheese dip, and finished with some smoked rare venison backstrap or ostrich.
  • As for dessert options, there are always several types of cheese from blue varietals (Red Rock or Stilton). However, in this case, I would love to attempt to make a vanilla malted cake to serve with this.
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