Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adding a Little Spice: Two Rare Oolongs

Today in the teahouse we tasted two rare oolongs Roy brought from China that have an unexpected trait in common. Normally oolongs have a prominent floral character, either overt or subdued. However, today's teas offered an improbable spiciness that shows just how diverse the oolong family can be.


Ye Cha ("wild tea") is a moderately fired Wu Yi yan cha with a distinct floral undertone but also an almost cinnamon-like spiciness that brings to mind another Wu Yi variety, rou gui. However, Ye Cha is more complex and multidimensional, with a clear, amber liquor that's crisp on the palate. The spiciness lingers pleasingly in the finish. According to Roy, even locals don't know the exact variety of this indigenous tea; they just pick it in the wilds of Wu Yi Mountain and enjoy!

Hailing from the opposite end of oolong's growing range, to the south, Jiang Mu Xiang comes from Feng Huang Shan (Phoenix Mountain) in Guangdong Province, one of China's oldest centers of tea connoisseurship. Tea from this region is famed for potent aromatics that mimic the scent of flowers and other plants. However, this exotic example has a natural scent of old ginger (the name means "mother of ginger scent"). The rich, golden amber liquor leaves a distinctively peppery sensation on the back of the throat.

Anyone eager to experience the astonishing range and complexity of the oolong family won't want to miss these two very special teas. They're quite rare, and our supply is very limited. Available for purchase in our online store or by appointment in our teahouses.

2 comments:

Jason Witt said...

The Ye Cha sounds like it might be a rather spiritual tea to me. This is because of how Pu-erh tea from old-growth trees has a reputation for having more life-force than lesser-quality or fake Pu-erhs. And the old-growth is closer to wild. --Spirituality of Tea

Virginia said...

For people who are sensitive to these things, the wild tea has a different kind of energy than cultivated tea. The nutrients that build the tea's flavor and character are less uniform and more specific to its locale. Also, there's a certain lack of polish, a rough-hewn quality that I think makes the tea interesting. In a year with a lot of excellent yan cha, Ye Cha is one of my favorites.