Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What-Cha: Fujian Qi Lan Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

Oh man, I am pooped! My birthday has been great fun, in typical mom and me fashion, we went out on a thrifting day! Of course we cranked Thrift Shop (it is our theme, retroactively, for most of our lives) and hit all the shops in the area. Surprisingly (or not because I am almost broke) we did not bring home too many things. I did meet an awesome lady at one of the thrift stores, a fellow tea fan, so I had a nice bonding experience, which is always fun! Oh yeah, and my mom and Sheena combined to get me a new teapot, but more on that this weekend!

What does one review on their special day, clearly one of their favorite types of tea (yes it is an oolong) but which of the multitudes do I reach for? Yancha, definitely Yancha. Specifically What-Cha's Fujian Qi Lan Wuyi Rock Oolong, from what I can gather it is a fairly light rock oolong leaning towards the more floral side than the roasted side. That is fine by me, though I prefer the kick in your face char and tobacco notes, I do really appreciate the milder ones as well. Oh who am I kidding, have I ever met an oolong, even a really garbage one at a Chinese restaurant, that I haven't enjoyed? So, on to the Qi Lan, the aroma of the dried leaves is certainly a Yancha, I notice the tobacco and char notes that are so familiar, but they are much milder and joined by dried cherry and flowers, specifically hyacinths. Many rock oolongs are sweet, this one takes it too a whole new level, much like combining a Dan Cong and a Yancha for ultimate yummy smells.

Guess what, no surprise this tea is going into my Yancha teapot because anytime I can use my Yixing I am happy. Now don't get me wrong, Yancha is fantastic in a gaiwan, but there is something really special about Yixing teapots, a special kind of magic. The aroma of the wet leaves is a blend of chestnuts, flowers, black walnuts, roasted chestnuts, and a touch of pipe tobacco. The aroma is very complex and sweet, the floral notes are really quite light, not the headiness of orchids, more like walking in a spring garden. The liquid's aroma is sweet and creamy with notes of cocoa, chestnuts, hazelnuts, spicebush, violets, and pansies. Odd to mention pansies, but as someone who has harvested and made pansy tea MANY times (I was an odd child) I know that smell all too well.

The first thing I will say about this steep is it feels good, fancy tea folk might call this Cha Qi, it tingles and makes me feel both relaxed and focused, it is a beautiful feeling, much like my body is blending with the tea. It coats the mouth and is very smooth, the tastes starts out with walnuts and a hint of char, like a very distant and now dead fire. This transitions to sweetness, like figs and dates, two of my favorite things to eat, so extra yummy points there. It ends with a blend of toasted nuts and spring flowers.

For the second steeping, the aroma is warm and spicy, a blend of dates, cocoa, and hazelnuts with a distinct lily finish. The taste is a touch milder, there are less notes of figs more notes of nuts, definitely picking up the hazelnuts and walnuts. In the middle there is a small date themed explosion that has the same coating sensation, but instead of the entire mouth it is more of the back of the throat. The finish is lilies, this taste lingers with a nectar like sweetness for quite a while, or at the very least long enough for me to do another steep and let it get to sipping temperature.

The aroma of the third steep shares the same spicy and floral notes as the second with an added char and tobacco finish, It is a little bit like someone tossed a flower on dying coals and instead of burning the flowers released its scent to be mixed with the smell of coals. The taste has mellowed out a good bit, mostly it is a sweet blend of hazelnuts and dates with a hint of tobacco. For the finish I am left with lingering lilies and honey. This Yancha is delicious and unique, is it my new favorite? Not sure, I am not sure anything will replace my love of Shui Xian which I consume in rather insane quantities, but this will certainly be an immensely enjoyable treat. Now I shall finish my birthday by catching up on my reading!

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