Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What-Cha: Fujian Cinnamon 'Rou Gui' Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea

I just had the most epic fall, seriously, if it didn't hurt so bad I would say it was a thing of beauty. Yours truly was standing on the bed snuggling Espeon who was on the top bunk (bunk beds are awesome for storage) sleeping in her bed. When I went to get down my foot somehow managed to get tangled in the sheet and instead of stepping off the bed I crashed to the hardwood floor. My hip and wrist took most of the fall, making it hard to sit and type, my clumsiness really is a thing of legend. But at least I have my pre-New Years cleaning done!

And since it is the day before possibly my favorite holiday (it really is a tie between New Year and the Mid Autumn Festival) I am going to review one of What-Cha's Chinese Oolongs, specifcally Fujian Cinnamon 'Rou Gui' Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea, yes it is Yancha time! I am noticing a trend, each time there is an important event I seem to review a Yancha, so this is officially going to be a thing now. So, first off, a little backstory, this specific Wuyi oolong first showed up in the Qing dynasty (which could be somewhat recent or a really long time ago) and is the most recent tea to be added to Wuyi's famous bushes, this one bringing it up to five. The name Rou Gui is a reference to its cinnamon notes that are supposedly present in the aroma and taste. So, history aside, let us get to the sniffing! The aroma is, well, heavy, it is very heavy, like sinking into a hot bath when you are super sore and tired, you just kind of fall into it. There are notes of sweet cocoa, honey, cooked plums, and distant sweet spice. There is also a fairly gentle aroma of char and smoke, but it is more like a distant campfire than a raging coal furnace. This tea smells like warmth and smelling it makes me feel immensely relaxed.

When I brew Yancha I load my teapot with leaves, I mean I really fill it up, and usually use just under boiling water and super short steeps, think a few seconds. Not the brewing method for everyone, but this is my technique, in case anyone were curious how I brew my beloved Yanchas. So the leaves, once thoroughly soggy smell quite mouth watering. The heaviness from the dry leaf is still present, it is joined with a stronger char note, the cocoa is also stronger, and now there is a bit of loam and Spicebush. The liquid is spicy and sweet, like chocolate and molasses with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish is a bit of char and honey.

Ok, first steeping time! I got bouncy waiting for my cup to cool to a suitable drinking temperature, nothing worse than a burned tongue...ok, burning your tongue and then spilling it all over your lap is also pretty awful. So, as expected, this tea is rich and heavy, it starts with lite molasses and toasted oats then builds to dates and spicebush at the middle. The finish is a bit of cocoa and loam with a surprising cooling sensation at the back of the throat.

The aroma of the second steep is heady, heavy, and sweet, it blends the molasses and char notes with succulently sweet spicebush and honey notes. I am such a fan of spicebush notes in tea, it is probably one of my favorite flower scents. So this time around the taste is not as sweet, the char notes are more predominant, and it has some nutty notes as well. Think a blend of fire roasted walnuts, tobacco, cinnamon, and a touch of molasses at the finish and you have this tea, also fun is that it warms this steep instead of cools.

Time for round three! The aroma this time is cocoa, heavy, and rich. It makes me feel sleepy and relaxed. The taste is milder and softer, starting with cocoa and char, moving into tobacco, plums, and nutmeg, and finishing with a distant taste of smoke and walnuts. I shan't bore you all with further tasting notes, but I did get several more steepings out of this tea, and according to my notes, promptly took a tea drunk fueled nap afterwards!

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