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Delightful Oolong Teas

Old Arbor Shui Xian Wuyi Rock Oolong, 17.99/2oz.

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Shui Xian is a popular varietal grown in the Wuyi Mountain area of Northern Fujian.   This one is "Old Arbor" due to the age of the plants in this grove, in this case about 80 years.  

A lot of people don't realize that a tea, and especially a roasted tea like this can change over time.  What you experience now in a tea can change subtly or even dramatically later.  This tea was roasted just recently.  Roasting accentuates the bottom notes and the texture.  Top notes are muted in the process usually but tend to reemerge later as the tea balances out.  At least that's the idea. 

I like this tea as it sits.  I could drink it all day.  It's got the characteristic soft Wuyi water profile, it's mouth watering/thirst quenching and has a nice fruity undertone.  I suspect top notes will show them selves later and I expect they will be on the floral side.  Time will tell. 

This tea is a good one to put in the tea chest to visit over the years until it's really good and then it's gone and you're like, "Dang.  I should have gotten more" :)

 

Brewing: 

Gong fu brewing with spring water or filtered water is recommended.  Place 7gr* of dry leaf in your 140ml standard gaiwan.  Douse the leaves with boiling hot water just covering them.  Steep 1-2 seconds then pour it off into your reservoir.  Repeat 3 or 4 times.  The important thing is to let it cool to a comfortable temperature before you start sipping.  Do the same thing for round 2 but increase steep time with each steep by 3 or 4 seconds.  Repeat as long as the leaves hold up.   Make sure to not let it steep too long with this method or the taste will overwhelm you. 

*You can also brew with less leaf and less water if you like

What is "Rock Tea"?

Yancha, or “Rock Tea” is a family of oolong teas grown in the rocky soils of the Wuyi Mountain area in Northern Fujian Province.  Typically, they are roasted leaves, long and twisted reminiscent poetically of a Chinese Black Dragon twisting among the clouds as he flies (fun fact: oolong literally means "Black Dragon" in Chinese (乌龙).  Tea has been grown there at least since the Ming Dynasty. 

I’m a fan of “rock” teas.  I noticed early on in my tea drinking experience that certain teas softened the water in my cup more than others.  Taiwanese Dayuling has this quality for instance, as do some others.  I figured out in time that rocky soil, being rich in minerals delivers more of the “yan” to the leaf and therefore the teacup.  “Yan” is a Chinese term for rock or cliff but really means minerals in this context and these teas are called Yancha in Chinese.  As far as tea drinkers are concerned, one might translate this in modern English as “Mineral Tea”.   As mineral water absorbs the character of the rocky depths from where it springs, so yancha contains the character of the rocky soil in which it is grown.  Various Yancha can also offer nice fruity, citrus or floral top notes.  These teas age very well.