Unfurling its leaves on the slopes of Niutou Mountain, this Rougui bears neither a traditional provenance nor character: its namesake cinnamon flavour is more subdued, in favour of a round body of red fruits—currant, lingonberry, or perhaps cooked quince. Its roasting has been mellowed by time, and the mineral mouthfeel balances its warmer side with a thirst-quenching coolness: take a sip and picture yourself drinking from a sun-warmed mountain stream, cassia stems and wild berries trailing in the water upstream.
For a more classically-cassia experience, try our Organic Rougui.
Wuyi Yan Cha – the tea from the rocks
Wuyi Yan Cha, aka Wuyi Rock Tea or, more properly, Cliff Tea, is an ancient oolong tea (one of the six tea categories, halfway between green and black teas). Rock tea is produced in the northern Fujian province.
Wuyi Yan Cha are complex teas. The typical mineral savour shares the field with the strength from roasting and the delicate floral and fruity hints.
- ORIGIN: Niutou Mountain, Jianyang District, Nanping, China
- MEANING: Cassia a.k.a. Chinese cinnamon (rougui)
- CULTIVAR: Rou Gui
- HARVEST TIME: Spring 2017
- TASTE: Lingonberry, mineral, cinnamon
- ROASTING: Thrice at 100-120°C
Authentic Wuyi Yan Cha is produced in the Wuyi Mount region, a UNESCO natural heritage site. The dramatic gorges of the Nine Bend River are surrounded by a largely intact subtropical forest and smooth cliffs of black-brownish rocks. The tea plants grow in narrow valleys, next to the cliffs, in a mineral-rich soil.
Today Wuyi Yan Cha is one of the most valued teas in China. Because it has become a status symbol, many wealthy Chinese are willing to pay a fortune for it without even knowing how a proper Wuyi Yan Cha should taste. The result has been prices inflating to unjustified level and quality often sacrificed for quantity.
Unique to the Wuyi Yan Cha is a mineral savor coming from the soil and the surrounding cliffs. Being the oolong with the highest fire finish, fresh Yan Cha may as a result be strong and pungent. Sharpness and too-prominent astringency subside upon ageing. Premium high-fire Yan Cha tastes better after a few years of storage. Use a Yixing teapot to soften the tea, should it be too astringent for your palate.
The overall tasting profile is rich, complex, and deep. Depending on cultivar and environment, the mineral-roasted flavor is refined by floral, fruity, nutty or woody accents.
Si Da Ming Cong, literally “Four Big Famous Bushes,” is a list of legendary Yan Cha varieties. The list usually includes Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Shui Jin Gui and Bai Ji Guan. Ban Tian Yao is also a well-known Wuyishan Oolong, often included in the list. Finding high-quality Ming Cong for a reasonable price is a real treasure hunt! Other varieties yield superior Yan Cha and gained popularity. Worth mentioning are Rou Gui, literally “cinnamon,” Shui Xian, Bei Dou, Qi Lan, Dan Gui und Fo Shou.