Friday, June 9, 2017

Teasenz: Wuyi Oolong Sampler - Rock Tea (Yan Cha) Impressions, Part 1, A Tea Review

I have very mixed feelings about my new TENS unit, on the one hand, the sensation of little electrical jolts going into my tissue feels surprisingly soothing and interesting. On the other, it is not doing a bloody thing for pain and in some cases making it worse. I wanted a pain relieving miracle but got a fun stim toy, so not a total waste, but I am still in pain and cranky about it. Luckily though, I have great reading material! I have been thoroughly entrenched in late 14-early 1500s English history lately. It seems all I read anymore is history, having finally just given in to my one true (reading/researching) love!

Recently I was sent quite the awesome collection of teas from Teasenz, including their new Wuyi Oolong Sampler! A collection of six different rock oolongs to really get your Yancha fix on, since it is six teas I decided to break the review into two parts, this first one covering Rou Gui, Qi Lan, and Bei Dou Yi Hao, two of my favorites and one I have not had as much experience with. Let us get right to the Rou Gui, probably my favorite ever Yancha, I love how the good ones taste of spice and distant campfires being so evocative of autumn. This Rou Gui smells of charred nutmeg and cinnamon bark (might be the first time one of these actually smells of cinnamon and not just nutmeg to me) dark chocolate, and an underlying fruit wood quality. It smells heavy and rich, and once steeped those notes are joined with wet slate and roasted cocoa shells.

This is a pleasantly thick Rou Gui, I feel as though my mouth has been completely covered in thick velvety tea goodness. The tea tastes of roasted cinnamon and nutmeg with dark chocolate, distant campfires, and a touch of cookies...specifically graham crackers. Yes, this tea tastes like a spicy s'more, and that is pretty fantastic. Later steeps bring out stronger notes of wet slate and charred wood, but throughout the (surprisingly long) session it retains its chocolate and spices, evoking camping trips and autumn evenings.

Next up is the Qi Lan, and I admit my experience with Qi Lan is all over the place when it comes to roasting level, and I have probably seen the largest variation of roast level with Qi Lan. This one seems to be right in the middle, but erring a bit light, you can smell the char of roast, but it is light compared to the other notes of amber resin, pine wood, autumn leaves, tobacco leaves, and orchid flowers. It is immensely complex as dry leaves and when it is steeped explodes into a different level, with an addition of orange blossoms, baking chocolate bread, and almond cookies. I might have drooled into my tea a little while sniffing it.

So, this Qi Lan is immensely sweet, like someone mixed a rich dark honey with orange blossoms, drizzled it over chocolate bread, and then topped it with almonds. Who needs a decadent dessert when you can drink this thick, sweet, starchy, goodness? Later steeps bring in a bit of a woody resinous taste of pine and amber, which really only increases the richness. Lucky for me, since it is blatantly obvious that I got along swimmingly with this tea, it lasts a long time, many steeps were had and I ended up blissfully tea drunk while reading a book about Elizabeth of York.

I have only had Bei Dou Yi Hao a handful of times, and I am not really sure why it is not a super rare or expensive Yancha, I just never seem to buy it when I am going tea shopping. That might change because WOW is this stuff fantastic! Notes of very strong roasted chestnut and cherries blend with undertones of wet slate and mangosteen. It is very sweet and fruity and becomes even more so when the leaves are soaked.

Tasting the tea was an experience, starting with notes of cherries and wet slate, it blooms into honeysuckles and orchid, with a strong finish of almonds and roasted chestnuts. It is immensely sweet, especially in later steeps where it feels like I just ate a honey glazed roasted chestnut. The roast on this one is very light, showing more as toasted nuts than char and fire, which is good, I love the strong roasted Yanchas but I also like the option of having a lighter roast one around as well. I think that is one thing I really love about Yancha in general, it is such a vast world of roast variation and flavors, that even when I am familiar with a type it can surprise me, and as roasts settle it can almost seem like a whole new tea!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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