In the northwestern region of Fujian Province one can find a complex family of oolong teas known as “yancha” (or “rock tea”). This rugged environment features steep rocky cliffs and high peaks that sometimes scale higher than 7000 ft. (2100m) in some locations.
The unique soil composition in Wuyishan imparts a distinctive flavor of minerality to the teas that grow here, and when roasted according to traditional techniques, some find them to rival the best tea in the world.
At MeiMei Fine Teas, we currently carry four Wuyi rock oolongs that we believe showcase what yancha has to offer. Though each one has a very different flavor profile when tasting side-by-side, together they stand as excellent representatives of Wuyi oolong tea, sharing in the mineral smoke-kissed flavor that proper roasting can bring out.
Shui Xian rock oolong features a creamy, velvety texture and a very strong narcissus flower fragrance, which, like its namesake, can be rather calming and intoxicating. Due to narcissus fragrance being commonly found in many perfumes, some even appropriately refer to the pleasant aroma as “perfumey.” This Wuyi oolong in particular is especially complex in its taste, however, as it also mingles the narcissus fragrance with hints of vanilla, stonefruit, and toasted almond, which become more pronounced with subsequent steepings.
Though not as potent as Shui Xian, comparatively speaking, Qi Lan rock oolong exhibits a similar level of complexity, harmoniously blending together fruity and floral notes. This oolong tea also has a creamy mouth texture, but where Shui Xian boasted its narcissus perfume, Qi Lan presents us with a milder orchid-like aroma paired with almond, vanilla, and raisin. Perhaps one of the most exciting features of this tea is the incredible aftertaste and savory sensation (or “hui gan”) it leaves with you.
While many are familiar with Tie Guan Yin (or “Iron Goddess of Mercy”) oolong tea, far fewer are familiar with Huang Guan Yin rock oolong, although that is beginning to change for good reason. This tea has a creamy texture characteristic of Wuyi tea, but the taste tends to be on the sweeter side than Shui Xian or Qi Lan. The “smokiness” is most notable in this tea, relative to the other Wuyi teas, but this aroma also tends to subside as this tea ages, making it an excellent candidate for long-term storage. While its young, you will enjoy a complex flavor of honey suckle, cocoa, and toasted sugar along with a fruitiness of dates.
Our Rou Gui oolong is simply exceptional. When brewed properly, it has a distinctively pleasant cinnamon bark (cassia) fragrance, and unveils a tantalizingly complex web of flavor, intermingling melon, cocoa bean, and dark cherry notes. This Wuyi oolong tea also has a hui gan not too dissimilar from Qi Lan oolong. It is especially nice to pair with a rich chocolate sweet.
These teas are perfect for sipping throughout the colder winters. Let us help you find your favorite rock oolong!