With this review, I am finally moving on to a tea I finished earlier this month. Looking over my rough draft of this review reminded me that the Rou Gui oolongs offered by Old Ways Tea always do it for me. I am not a huge Rou Gui fan, but I have been impressed by every Rou Gui from Old Ways Tea that I have tried. This tea did not even come close to breaking that trend. I found it to be yet another very enjoyable Rou Gui.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of charcoal, smoke, red wine, pine, black cherry, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, star anise, blackberry, and earth as well as some subtle grassy scents. The first infusion introduced suddenly amplified earth and cinnamon aromas as well as a pleasant ginger scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, black cherry, roasted almond, smoke, and charcoal that were balanced by hints of red wine, earth, grass, pear, orange zest, and blackberry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals (almost like mineral water), orange zest, black raspberry, and pomegranate as well as even stronger earthy aromas and some somewhat amplified grassy scents. More earth and grass notes came out in the mouth alongside subtle impressions of roasted peanut, ginger, and star anise. I also picked up on slightly stronger blackberry notes, subtle notes of black raspberry, and impressions of minerals, pomegranate, peach, orange zest, rock sugar, and apricot. The previously noted hints of red wine morphed into a flavor akin to that of red table grapes, while some unexpected notes of roasted barley also appeared. Though it may sound odd, I even picked up on some fleeting notes of peat and dark chocolate in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, roasted barley, roasted peanut, roasted almond, earth, and pine that were balanced by suddenly emerging popcorn notes and hints of charcoal, orange zest, grass, pomegranate, blackberry, red grape, cinnamon, and black cherry.
This was an extremely challenging yet enjoyable Wuyi Rou Gui oolong. Teas of this type have a tendency to be very earthy, nutty, spicy, and heavy with prominent charcoal and smoke aromas and flavors, but this one was often more delicate, and it was always changing. The flavors had a tendency to suddenly mutate into something else, often while shifting in intensity. Throughout my review session, I could not shake the feeling that this tea was challenging me to keep up with it, and quite frankly, I am not certain I was always up to the task. That should be obvious in the description of its aromas and flavors I provided in the above paragraph. I quickly reached a point where all I could do was settle in for the ride and try not to think too hard about what was going on with this tea. Ultimately, I guess I picked it apart the best I could, but this tea very well may have withstood my probing without giving up all of its secrets and charms. In the end, I loved what I was able to get out of this tea and relished the challenge it presented, but I feel that it may be a bit too much for those new to Wuyi Rou Gui. Definitely try some of Old Ways Tea’s other Rou Gui offerings before moving on to this tea or one of their other higher end Rou Gui.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Blackberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Ginger, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Peat, Pine, Popcorn, Raspberry, Red Apple, Red Wine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar