This was another of my sipdowns from last month. In truth, I had put off trying this tea for a while because Rou Gui is not one of my favorite Wuyi oolong cultivars, and I had always heard that the winter harvests in Wuyishan tend to yield teas of poor quality. At the time I resolved to try this tea, however, I knew that some of the recent winter harvested Wuyi teas were starting to change the overall perception of teas produced outside the traditionally highly regarded spring harvests, so I resolved to approach this tea with an open mind. It immediately shocked me. First, I was surprised by the quality of the leaves. They looked much better than expected. Second, I noticed how light the roast was. According to What-Cha, this tea was given a light-to-medium roast, but to me, the roast looked light. Light roasted Rou Gui is not all that common. Third, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea. It was really a great Wuyi oolong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cinnamon, charcoal, baked bread, malt, pine, red grape, tart cherry, and roasted almond. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, grass, mushroom, and cannabis. The first infusion introduced aromas of rock sugar, pomegranate, and smoke. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, grass, cannabis, cream, butter, mushroom, charcoal, and baked bread that were complimented by hints of malt, tart cherry, smoke, red grape, and roasted almond. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of minerals, ginger, dark chocolate, red apple, roasted barley, pear, oak, and tobacco. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of tart cherry, smoke, red grape, and roasted almond appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, roasted peanut, pine, rock sugar, earth, roasted walnut, pear, red apple, ginger, dark chocolate, oak, tree bark, tobacco, orange zest, and roasted barley. There were also some very subtle hints of pomegranate here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, oak, roasted barley, grass, charcoal, mushroom, and malt that were balanced by hints of baked bread, roasted almond, cannabis, roasted peanut, red grape, tart cherry, tree bark, tobacco, and orange zest.
This tea was both incredibly interesting and incredibly satisfying. Normally, Rou Gui tends to strike me as being very spicy and heavy, but this tea was light, fruity, earthy, nutty, and woody. While I was drinking it, I could not compare it to any other Rou Gui I had tried. Even at this point, I find it to be a very memorable, unique tea and unlike any other Wuyi oolong I have consumed. Definitely check this tea out if you are looking for a unique Wuyi Rou Gui that avoids the heaviness of some of the more traditional takes on the style.
Flavors: Almond, Bark, Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Ginger, Grapes, Grass, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Oak, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Red Apple, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco