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Everything About Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick (Heicha) Tea

"Fuzhuan brick (Heicha) tea (FBT) as a representative type of dark tea is one of the three treasures of the ancient Silk Road in China together with Chinaware and Silk, and has become increasingly popular due to its unique flavors and health benefits."

Trends in Food Science & Technology. Volume 119, January 2022, Pages 452-466

I. Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick (Heicha) Tea is a type of Dark Tea

Golden Flower Fu Brick (Heicha) tea is classified as a dark tea, one of the six major categories of Chinese tea. It falls into the same category as Yunnan Pu-erh tea and Guangxi Liu Bao tea, all of which are post-fermented teas.

The exhibition of the six categories of tea in the Chinese Fu Brick Tea Museum
The exhibition of the six categories of tea in the Chinese Fu Brick Tea Museum

The most distinctive feature of dark tea is its fermentation process. During fermentation, tea polyphenols and polysaccharides in the leaves undergo complex transformations under specific climatic conditions and with the involvement of microorganisms. These changes significantly alter the tea's color, taste, and aroma.

The name "Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea" comes from the fact that it is processed during the hottest summer days in the Chinese lunar calendar, known as the "Fu Days." Golden Flower Fu tea brews into a bright, orange-red liquid, characteristic of post-fermented and fully fermented teas.

II. What Exactly is the "Golden Flower" in Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick Tea?

The most significant distinction between Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea and other dark teas is the dense, golden fungus flowers that develop within the tea. These are scientifically known as *Eurotium cristatum*, a probiotic unique to Fu tea. Unlike other dark teas, Fu tea undergoes an extraordinary "flowering" process after fermentation, which results in the growth of these beneficial fungi.

Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea - orientaleaf
Golden Flower Fu Brick TeaGolden Flower Fu Brick TeaGolden Flower Fu Brick Tea

This probiotic step, colloquially known as "Fahua发花" or "Flowering," is crucial in producing Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea.

Historical records indicate that over 600 years ago, Xi'an, the starting point of the Silk Road, was a bustling hub where goods from all over China were gathered for transport to Central Asia. Tea was a significant commodity in this trade. In the town of Jingyang, near Xi'an, tea merchants accidentally discovered that black hairy tea developed golden spores when left to ferment after being soaked in the rain. To avoid economic loss, the merchants bravely tasted the re-fermented tea and found its flavor had become more prosperous and mellow. This serendipitous discovery led to the deliberate production of this unique tea in Jingyang.

The Silk Road from Xi
The Silk Road from Xi'an to Central Asia
A caravan of camels carrying goods in the desert
A caravan of camels carrying goods in the desert

Much like the accidental discoveries of cheese, ham, and fermented tofu, the flowering of Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea is a natural gift to humanity. Even more remarkably, the unique conditions in Jingyang, near Xi'an, allow for the natural flowering of Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea without artificial inoculation. The local climate, temperature, and air quality naturally fosters the growth of the golden flowers in Jingyang Fu tea.

Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea is primarily produced in two regions: Jingyang in Shaanxi Province and Anhua in Hunan Province. Jingyang, as the original production area, possesses the unique geographical advantages necessary for the natural flowering of Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea. Traditionally, it is said that Fu brick tea can only be made with the specific environment, people, and water of Jingyang. These natural conditions ensure the authentic quality and unique production process of Jingyang Fu tea. In contrast, Hunan's Fu brick tea relies on controlled inoculation for flowering due to the lack of suitable natural conditions. Therefore, Jingyang Fu tea is considered the authentic origin of this unique Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea.

Jingyang-produced Golden Flower Fu tea has also been granted geographical indication protection, highlighting its unique quality and regional characteristics.

III. The Production Process of Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick Tea

The production of Golden Flower Fu tea is intricate, involving several key steps:

1. Harvesting

Selecting high-quality tea leaves as raw material.

2. Fixation

Stopping the oxidation of the leaves through high-temperature treatment.

3. Rolling

Shaping the leaves and breaking their cell structure to facilitate subsequent fermentation.

4. Fermentation

Allowing the leaves to ferment under specific temperature and humidity conditions to develop their unique flavor.

5. Pressing into Bricks

Compressing the fermented leaves into brick shapes.

6. Inoculating with "Golden Flower" Fungus:

Introducing *Eurotium cristatum* to the tea bricks under controlled conditions to form the "Golden Flower" (golden flowers).

7. Drying

Drying the tea bricks to preserve their quality and aroma.

IV. Benefits of Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick Tea

A whole piece of Jinhua Fu tea.-orientaleaf
A whole piece of Golden Flower Fu Brick Tea

1. Helps Lower Blood Sugar, Lipids, and Blood Pressure

Fu tea can help lower blood pressure by inhibiting its rise. The alkaloids and flavonoids in Fu tea relax the blood vessel walls, increasing their effective diameter and causing blood pressure to drop. Studies have shown that tea can reduce blood pressure through the activation of dopamine neurons by theanine, a unique amino acid found in tea.

Additionally, caffeine and catechins in tea can relax blood vessel walls, increasing their effective diameter and causing blood pressure to drop. Research has also demonstrated that tea pigments have significant anti-coagulation effects, promote fibrinolysis, prevent platelet adhesion and aggregation, inhibit the proliferation of arterial smooth muscle cells, significantly lower triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins in serum, and increase high-density lipoproteins, effectively lowering blood pressure.

2. Aids Digestion, Weight Loss, and Weight Control

Obesity is caused by specific biochemical factors leading to imbalances in food intake and energy metabolism. Fu tea can dissolve fats and promote the excretion of lipids, reducing total cholesterol, free cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood, thereby decreasing the incidence of arteriosclerosis. It activates protein kinase, accelerates fat decomposition, and reduces body fat content. Studies have found that tea drinkers expend more energy and have a higher fat oxidation rate than those who drink only water, proving that dark tea effectively reduces fat and aids in weight loss.

3. Alleviates Diarrhea

Diarrhea, caused by various factors, poses significant health risks. Traditionally, Fu brick tea has been used to treat diarrhea, and experiments have shown that it effectively alleviates diarrhea in mice, likely due to the presence of *Eurotium cristatum*. This probiotic regulates intestinal flora, addressing a fundamental cause of diarrhea.

Golden Flower Fu tea is rich in organic acids, vitamins, tea polyphenols, and other bioactive substances. It is a primary source of vitamins and trace elements for residents in border regions (Xinjiang et al.), helping eliminate excess fat and calories from food, inhibiting obesity, and boosting immunity. There is a saying among border herders: "Better three days without food than one day without tea; a day without tea makes one sluggish, three days without tea makes one ill."

4. Supporting Research Papers

A comprehensive review on microbiome, aromas and flavors, chemical composition, nutrition and future prospects of Fuzhuan brick tea

- [ScienceDirect Article]

A comprehensive review on microbiome, aromas and flavors, chemical composition, nutrition and future prospects of Fuzhuan brick tea


-Fuzhuan brick tea (FBT) as a representative type of dark tea is one of the three treasures of the ancient Silk Road in China together with Chinaware and Silk, and has become increasingly popular due to its unique flavors and health benefits. However, the knowledge of FBT is only scattered, and obviously, the more comprehensive study is requisite to reveal the relationship between consumption of FBT and human health, and further prospect the future of FBT-derived products.

- Interestingly, proper long-term consumption of FBT has been proven to have many beneficial impacts on humans and model animals (Zhang, Jia et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2018). A massive amount of evidence has indicated that FBT exhibits health-promoting effects, including anti-obesity and hypolipidemic effects (Fu et al., 2011; Kim et al., 2010; Luo et al., 2012; Peng et al., 2014), antibacterial ability (Keller et al., 2013), antioxidant and hepatoprotective activities (Cao et al., 2020; Chen et al., 2018a; Liu, 2018; Zhang et al., 2019), and regulatory effects on the gut microbiota (Chen et al., 2018a; Kang et al., 2019) and so on.

-FBT has been proven to have significant biological activity and utilization value, while a comprehensive review on FBT is scarce. In this paper, a more comprehensive introduction to FBT is reported for the first time, including microbiome, aromas and flavors, nutrition, chemical ingredients, and their compositions, as well as the prospects of developing FBT-derived products to help researchers all over the world to know and understand a rising star in dark teas.”

V. How to Choose and Brew Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick Tea

We previously wrote a blog post introducing Golden Flower Fu tea's selection and brewing techniques. Read Here.

Below is a summary of the main content.

A small piece of Fu Brick Tea

1. Choosing Golden Flower Fu Tea

1. The more golden flowers present, the higher the quality of the Fu brick tea.

2. The tea brick should be moderately firm.

3. High-quality tea bricks are smooth, with distinct edges, a brownish hue, and a unique "fungus flower" aroma.

4. The golden flowers in high-quality tea bricks should be evenly distributed and layered, not chaotic or clustered.

2. Brewing Golden Flower Fu Tea

1. Straightforward drinking - brewing method

2. Straightforward drinking - soaking method

3. Straightforward drinking - boiling method

4. Blending - Xinjiang milk tea (Mongolian milk tea)

5. Blending - chrysanthemum/tangerine peel Fu brick tea

VI. How to Pry Tea Leaves from a Fuzhuan Brick Tea

To pry leaves from a Golden Flower Fu tea brick, place the brick on its side, insert a tea needle vertically into the brick, keeping the angle parallel to the brick's surface, and push the needle inward. Repeat around the brick's perimeter. Finally, insert the needle into the middle of the brick and gently pry to split it in half. Lay the halves flat and pry off small pieces for brewing.

VII. Storage and Shelf Life of Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick Tea

As a type of dark tea, Fu tea can be stored long-term under clean, dry, and odor-free conditions. According to Chinese national standards, Jingyang Fu tea has a shelf life of 10-15 years, while loose tea has a 5-10 years shelf life. High-quality, traditionally made Jingyang Fu tea can develop a good flavor after 1-2 years of storage, but most modern products require 3-5 years. Proper storage conditions allow the tea's aroma and flavor to mature, enhancing its quality.

Proper Storage Methods

- Do not refrigerate or seal in plastic bags.

- Store in a cool, dry place, stacking naturally.

- Inspect and turn the tea 1-2 times a year.

- Avoid damp conditions to prevent mold growth. Tea with white or green mold is not safe to consume.

VIII. Other Forms of Golden Flower Fuzhuan Brick Tea

While traditionally produced in brick form for fermentation and transport, Golden Flower Fu tea now comes in pre-broken small pieces and loose bags, making it easier to brew and carry. Some flavored versions include chrysanthemum or lotus leaf for additional aroma and taste.

IX. Who Should Avoid Fu Tea?

1. Individuals with Low Blood Sugar:

Fu tea contains polysaccharides that lower blood sugar, which can harm those with hypoglycemia.

2. Pregnant Women:

Fu tea's caffeine and other compounds can affect fetal development, which is best avoided.

3. Long-term Vegetarians:

Due to its digestive solid properties, Fu tea can disrupt those with low body fat metabolism.

X. An Extra Note: The Fu Tea Town in Xi'an

Located about 20 kilometers northwest of Xi'an, Fu Tea Town features traditional architecture reminiscent of ancient towns in the Guanzhong region, recreating scenes from the Silk Road era. It houses the Chinese Fu Tea Culture Museum, showcasing the history of Fu tea, with live tea-making demonstrations, tea ceremonies, and various local snacks. It is a popular weekend destination for Xi'an residents and a worthwhile day trip for visitors to the city.

The Chinese Fu Tea Culture Museum in the Fu Tea Town
A stall selling Fu tea.
Fu Tea in Cup on a city wall
Shops in Fu Tea Town
Tea Room In Fu Tea Town
Fu Tea Town
Fu Tea Town
Fu Tea Town
Fu Tea Town
Fu Tea Town

We have been running a tea house in Xi'an for over six years, and our favorite type of tea is the locally produced Golden Flower Fu tea.

Having tasted so many varieties of Golden Flower Fu tea, we can confidently say that we are experts in this field.

We have also written many blog posts about Fu tea, and we welcome you to continue reading.

If you are interested in Golden Flower Fu tea, feel free to visit our online store to make a purchase. 

We offer a variety of high-quality Golden Flower Fu tea products to meet your different needs. 

First-time buyers can also enjoy a special discount!

Shop now and explore more!


Author: Cary Woo

Cary Woo has been working in the tea industry for over 10 years and has run a tea house for over 6 years, serving thousands of tea enthusiasts each year. He has a deep passion for various types of Chinese tea and is also the operator of Orientaleaf. He advocates for Orientaleaf's business philosophy: "We only sell tea that we have personally enjoyed and believe to be of high quality." He hopes to make the beauty of Chinese tea accessible to tea enthusiasts worldwide through simple means.

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