Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tea Yuan: 2013 Rou Gui, A Tea Review

Well I WAS going to go to the zoo today, but the weather had different plans, it is going to be one of those all day storming events, so instead I shall satisfy a different kind of craving. The craving for muffins! I plan on baking blueberry mochi muffins later today and then I will gorge myself on them. I woke up with such a muffin craving, it is rather intense! But first I have to go gather the needed ingredients.

Today we are looking at one of my favorite rock oolongs, Rou Gui, specifically Tea Yuan's 2013 Rou Gui, and this one is fancy because it is a Zheng Yan, meaning it came from inside the Wuyi Scenic Reserve area, a legit Yancha! Since this is from a couple years ago, the roasting has mellowed out, and you can tell this from the aroma. There are the usual char notes, but they are mellow and distant, alongside the gentle char are notes of tobacco, cocoa, very gentle spice like a spicebush flower, and a touch of sweet nuttiness.

Yancha pot time for the leaves, giving them a steeping and then sniffing. The aroma of the wet leaves is stronger in the char department, but instead of smelling like burnt wood, it smells like burnt nut shells, and just toasted nuts in general. Like fire roasting chestnut shells and walnuts, it is pretty pleasant, it has the usual char notes but with a fun twist. There are also notes of tobacco and a touch of burnt plum, no spice though which is always sad. However, the liquid has a gentle spice quality, not terribly strong, but like a distantly blooming spicebush. There are also notes of creamy sweet chocolate and plums, with undertones of wet slate and a touch of wet char.

Ooh this is a pleasantly woody Yancha, like fruit wood that has been roasted rather than charcoaled, it is sharp and a bit brisk, a good start. The initial woodiness fades to a fun combination of char, wet slate, and wonderfully sweet and gently spicy cocoa. The spice notes are pretty mellow, as are the char, it is like only slightly burnt chocolate rather than chocolate that has been lit on fire. The finish is sweet and a touch creamy, with a fruity plum and cherry aftertaste.

The aroma of the second steep is surprisingly sweet, it blends plums and creamy chocolate with wet slate and gentle char. I always love that about Yancha, it is like eating dessert out in nature and the tastes and smells of both blend perfectly. This is a thick Yancha, usually I found their mouthfeel sharp and crisp, sometimes smooth (especially with the aged ones) but this one has a real thickness to it similar to many Taiwanese oolongs I have interacted with. The taste is smooth and sweet, chocolate and plums dance with gentle spice and wet slate. The finish is a blend of wet slate and plums, the mineral is strong in the tea and it lingers for a while in the aftertaste.

 A thing I can certainly say in this tea's favor, it has some excellent staying power for a Yancha, usually I find most of them putter out after four or so steeps, but this one lasted for seven, which was awesome. The aroma for this steep is sweet, not as sweet as the second steep, but still quite sweet. Notes of fruit and fruit wood blend with chocolate and char, with a strong mineral finish. The taste is so sweet this steep, there are the strong notes of mineral and some char, but there is such a wonderful juicy plum and chocolate note that I was surprised when this tea turned out to not be sticky. I really enjoyed this tea, it had great strong mineral qualities which I love in a Yancha, and of course it had the char notes I love, but it was pleasantly mild and not like drinking the remnants of a forest fire.

This tea came from a tea trade with tea friends.

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