Spring Break Session #5: 2015 Wild Tianjian (Exquisite Leaves)

  • Last edited: October 30, 2021
  • Time to read: 3 min.

During Spring break, I want to do a proper tasting session every day. You can read all about my plans and the other teas I tried this week in this post.

Exquisite Leaves

I wanted to taste another dark tea (hei cha) and I had some samples left from Exquisite Leaves. This is a tea company that specialises in Anhua dark tea of the finest sort. They identify themselves as “the ultimate Anhua Dark Tea specialist”. They “select and store all sorts of premium, artisanal and aged dark teas from Anhua County.” (source) This is the second tea I have tried and I have to say that they sell some top quality tea coming from Anhua and Xinhua County in Hunan Province, China.

2015 Wild Tianjian

The tea I tasted today is 2015 Wild Tianjian. As you can already tell from its name, this tea was produced in 2015 in Guama Village in Anhua County. This batch is supposed to represent the highest quality of Tianjian tea available. The tea is not pressed into a cake but consists of loose leaves; big tips in particular. Notes of smoked pinewood should be prominent during tasting because all Anhua Dark tea is smoked over pinewood and this gives the tea its specific flavour profile.

You can see that the dry leaves are rather big and that they have a really dark colour. They are not compressed into a cake.

The wet leaves are less dark and have a green colour. They have unfurled after using  and they are massive.

Tea tasting

Brewing details

  • Water 99°C
  • 10g of leaves for a 200ml Jianshui pot
  • 2 rinses
  • 6 steeps (15 sec + 5 sec each steep)

Smell dry leaves

Light notes of smoked salmon in combination with a prominent and pleasant smell of smoked pinewood. I’m also getting some woodsy notes.

Smell wet leaves

The smell of the wet leaves is a bit different. Not that much smoked salmon now but mainly smoked pinewood in combination with a wet forest. Weird combination but it’s a pleasant smell.


1st steep: this steep is dominated by smokiness. Smoked pinewood that is intense during the steep but changes into a very light butteriness for the aftertaste.

2nd steep: light notes of smoked salmon in combination with smoked pinewood. The aftertaste is less buttery but I’m getting more caramel now.

3rd steep: more and more notes of smoked salmon and less smoked pinewood. Aftertaste mainly consists of light caramel.

4th steep: pleasant notes of smoked pinewood. The aftertaste consists of light caramel.

5th steep: light notes of smoked salmon again. No real aftertaste anymore. It seems that there is a back and forth between smoked pinewood and smoked salmon.

6th steep: very subtle notes of smoked salmon.

1st steep

2nd steep

3rd steep

4th steep

5th steep

6th steep


Exquisite leaves produces some high quality dark teas. The 2015 Wild Tianjian was a pleasant and delicious tea to drink. I think it’s intriguing that the taste changes between smoked salmon and smoked pinewood quite often. This tea has a really interesting story to tell if you are willing to listen to what it has to say. It’s a smooth and warming tea that is perfect to relax. It reminds me a bit of a winter barbecue when you can smell the burning charcoal while your steak is roasting nicely. I recommend this tea if you like smoked flavours.

Want to buy this smokey tea? Visit Exquisite Leaves’ store via this link.

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