The last couple of weeks the cliff teas from Wuyi came across my path more than ever. It’s like the cold weather has sparked everyone to drink and talk about it. In this entry I will share some very valuable experiences I’ve had the last couple of weeks that made me so much more excited about Wuyi teas.
Not like every tea, teas from the Wuyi area have the capability to warm me up rapidly, without ‘the high’ getting to your head like a Pu’er can do. It’s warming, but in a more calming than rushing way. So winter seems to be the most fitting period to drink this tea on a more regular base. Also, this time of year is when the charcoal roast applied to these teas has settled in the leaves produced in the spring of 2016. So now is the moment to first get a good glimpse of what the tea is really capable of.
All these factors are pointing me to Wuyi teas the last few weeks, but it was a meeting at a Global Tea Hut member in Amsterdam that highlighted this little Wuyi detour I’m on right now.
Niklas is a member of the Global Tea Hut and organizes tea sessions on a regular base in Amsterdam to enjoy tea in silence, before the tea geeking starts. This was my first time attending and the tea we drank was a Liu Bao from the 1990s, a shou-like Heicha that one attendee, the only female by the way, described as very masculine. Niklas and another Global Tea Hut member present, Jing, were sharing their experiences on their travels to Wuyishan in the aftermath of the session and were telling me about this farmer family, the Huang family, that is the only farm allowed to process their teas within the Wuyi reserve. From their faces and stories I could tell the tea produced by the Huang family had to be top-notch and so I was very excited when Niklas gifted me a sample of Rou Gui produced entirely by hand by farmer Huang Xian Yi and his son.
He sent me a message the day after with some links to more information on the Huang family, including a seven-chapter documentary on this farmer made by The Essence of Tea, a company selling the Huang teas. Niklas urged me to first watch the videos and then give this tea my full attention and so I did. Before sharing my thoughts on the video I have to say that drinking this Rou Gui was an experience a level or 3 higher than I’ve had so far when it comes to Wuyi teas. Such heavy round notes, dark chocolate and espresso, with a floral note to it. A sharp minerality with the charcoal nicely settled. Thick in the throat. It was hard making an end to the session and after I had decided to wrap up the session after an hour or so to take a few pictures, I had to brew it again. And again. I felt incredibly lucky getting to taste this tea.
What contributed to the experience was the documentary on the Huang family I saw that same morning. Watching this skilled farmer make his tea and talk about the process is something I recommend to all of you. I love how farmer Huang tries to explain certain steps of the process that are simply unexplainable to us, the people not spending their whole lives on the farm processing the best Wuyi teas around. Why am I spitting water in the wok before I throw the leaves in? Because. It is the result of generations of tea making. And it works. No explanation needed.
I have embedded the first 2 videos beneath here, but also check out the other 2 I’ve put a link to (I cannot embed those), video number 3 being my favorite because of the stage of processing and the comments farmer Huang makes. But I recommend starting with the first video and see them from the start on. This is an insight that broadens your mind and lets you appreciate the tea you’re drinking so much more. And that is the exact reason I want to head to China in spring and see with my own eyes the effort and skills needed to produce that beautiful leaf in your gaiwan every day.
And the good news is: I will be going to China. In april I’ll be spending three weeks traveling the tea lands of China and I have lots of ideas on the content I hope to make and share with you. So stay tuned, as always.
Don Mei on Da Hong Pao
Don Mei on Tie Luo Han