In the Hunan province in China, Hei Cha means ‘Hunan Black Tea’. This is the not black tea we normally think of here in the US, instead it is what is called dark tea or post fermented tea similar to pu-erh tea. What we call black tea here in the US, is called red tea in China.
Hei Cha tea has been crafted mostly in the Anhua region of Hunan province for hundreds of years specifically for transportation over very long distances to places like Mongolia and Tibet.
Hei Cha is not a stylish tea in that it is not particularly attractive. Fibrous stalks, stems and raggedy coarse leaves can be found in the brick.
Hunan dark tea production is different than that for pu-erh. Different varieties of the tea plant grow in Hunan verses Yunnan. The fermentation varies because different molds and fungi are involved.
Dark teas are created into solid shapes like logs and discs and sold in pieces.
Hunan Hei Cha starts out looking coarse and dark green in appearance. Over time the tea become greenish-brown then brown.
The flavor profile tends to be soft and mellow, sometimes slightly smoky, sometimes a little spicy, sometimes ripe and fruity. The older the tea, the more mellow, sweet and fruity the taste will be.
This information was paraphrased from Jane Pettigrew, a tea historian, writer, consultant, specialist working in the UK and the world explaining and offering insight into the world of tea.