Yongchun Semi-wild Buddha’s Hand 2019
This is one of two very special teas that comes to us from our friend Mei in Yongchun, Fujian.
Buddha’s Hand tea originated from Yongchun County of southern Fujian. Its origin was traced to an ancient temple on Shifeng Cliff, Yongchun. Fingered citron (also called Buddha’s Hand), a fruit with a refreshing lemon scent, is a common offering in temples. Monks at the temple drank tea daily to meditate. Soon after the temple was built in the late 1600’s, monks planted fingered citron trees to worship Buddha; they also planted tea trees for making tea for themselves. One day, a monk had a thought that it would be nice to have a tea with citrus scent. He grafted branches of a tea tree onto the fingered citron tree, carefully cared for it and successfully made a tea with leaves as big as Buddha’s hands, with a natural scent of the fingered citron. This was the first Buddha’s Hand varietal tea tree. There are still 89 mother Buddha’s Hand tea trees that are more than 300 years old surrounding the temple to this day.
Our friend Mei is a native of Yongchun County with deep roots and passion for the history and traditional crafts of the town and the people. Deeply touched by the old groves of the tea trees that she saw in the mountains of her hometown, she is committed to making the cleanest oolongs from these semi-wild tea trees in the mountains.
This specific Buddha’s Hand is foraged from old groves of tea trees on Yinshi Mountain, one of the highest peaks in Yongchun. The tea trees were planted in the 1940’s, and were only discovered a few years ago. Because of the very high altitude and remoteness of its location, these tea trees have been left to grow in the wild, with no human intervention. Very young tender leaves were harvested on the second day of the season. These tender leaves produces tea that is exceptionally sweet and milky.
The fresh leaves are foraged by a small group of nine local villagers, and handcrafted by Mr. Liu, who is one of the most earnest and dedicated tea makers that we’ve met. The tea is slow roasted over charcoal for four rounds, each roasting accentuating the sweetness and complexity of the tea.
The resulting tea is one of our favourite Oolongs that we have tasted to date. It is exceptionally sweet, smooth, floral, milky yet complex and deep. The flavours are exceptionally well balanced, the sensation is almost impossible to describe. The tea starts off with pronounced floral and nutty notes reminiscent of roasted sunflower seeds and fresh fava beans. Subsequent infusions yield fruity notes of apricot and pears, with a sweetness similar to a fine iced wine. It is an unforgettable tea to be savoured.