When appreciating tea from the Southern Fujian Province there is a small, lesser known region, bordering Anxi in the South and Dehua in the North, called Yongchun that we must pause our attention on. Yongchun has a surprising number of old grove tea trees that are now more than 60 years old.
Our friend Mei’s encounter with Yongchun oolong started in the summer of 2013. For the last decade Mei has trekked almost all of the mountains and peaks of Yongchun. She has come across abandoned tea trees deep in the mountains, and remote small scale tea farms that are still in operation. With amazement, she discovered that there are many abandoned Buddha’s Hand and Shuixian tea trees tucked high up in the mountain forests. Most of these groves are at least 2000 ft in elevation. Many of the tea trees are around 30 years old, but Mei has found some that are closer to 100: they have been hidden deep in the mountains, forgotten, and thus also protected.
This Rougui is an experimental tea. The tea craftsman brought over trees of the Rougui varietal from the Wuyi Mountains where they are indigenous and planted them in the Water Reservoir Area in Yongchun.
The Water Reservoir is 23 km northeast of Yongchun, on a mountain that reaches 3200 ft in elevation. The area is jungle-like, with interconnected trees branching over the edges of the lakes and rivers. The soil here is very unique, made up of mostly small, weathered granite rocks, which offer the ideal drainage for oolong varietals. Mainly Shuixian tea trees grow on this mountain, alongside a small number of Buddha’s Hand trees. Up until when these trees were planted, around ten years ago, there had never been a known Rougui tree in this are.
This transplanted tea offers us a unique experience of Rougui - we learn something essential about this varietal when we experience it sustained by a completely new terroir. What we have found is that, without the concentrated minerals of the Wuyi Mountains, we taste the unusual sweetness and softness of Rougui.
This tea is far more lighthearted than what we expect from most Rougui. Some of its characteristic mineral architecture is still there, but that structure is washed over by the velvety mouthfeel characteristic of Yongchun Oolongs like Shuixian and Buddha’s Hand. This tea has a saliva-producing, grassy sweetness, like leaf sugar and smoke.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||8