Fo Shou Cha (佛手茶), or Buddha’s Hand Oolong, traces its origins back to the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127 AD). Near Eternal Spring in Yong Chun County, this varietal was cultivated by monks who crafted the tea as a higher-oxidized oolong, twisting and rolling the leaves so that they resembled the sections of a fingered citron (or Buddha’s Hand fruit).
One of the most distinctive characteristics this tea bush varietal showcases is its impressively large greenish-blue leaves. Even after processing and infusing the leaves, it is not uncommon to find them average 4–6” in length (and sometimes even longer). For this reason, it is sometimes said that the leaves of this tea are “as long as the Buddha’s hand.”
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to find this tea crafted in accordance with the traditional methods. Too often it is lightly oxidized, resembling some high-mountain oolongs, and this inferior crafting erases some of the nuances and complexity this tea has to offer.
Rarer still is a Fo Shou Cha that comes from Wuyishan, the UNESCO protected World Heritage site. A beloved national park with some of the world’s richest biodiversity, Wuyi’s unique terroir contributes some of the most astounding aromatics and textures to the tea grown in this region. It’s one of the most pristine and phenomenal locations in the world.
So when we discovered a Buddha’s Hand growing in Zheng Yan (正岩), the true rock core-producing area of Wuyishan — a Buddha’s Hand that was crafted with the old methods — it was impossible to pass up.
As one might expect from a true Zheng Yan Cha, this tea has character.
Expertly fire-roasted by Master Liu (one of several tea masters who worked for the prominent Wuyi Tea Factory in the 1970s to 1990s), the leaves of this Buddha’s Hand are dark brown and moderately oxidized. Achieving this level of oxidation (neither too light and green, nor too dark and black) requires vigilance, patience, and care, superior timing and attention to details.
The end result speaks for itself.
This is a one-of-a-kind, top-quality connoisseur’s tea, presenting with a velvety rich texture and complex flavor profile that starts with strong notes of pear, complemented by honey-drizzled stone fruits gently baked over oak chips. As a true yancha, this tea also teases the back of the throat with the tingling, effervescent sensation of yan yun (岩韵), the “rock- or cliff-rhyme.”If you’ve ever wondered what makes Buddha’s Hand so special and desirable, this is the tea to sample.