In the north-west region of Fujian Province the rocky cliffs of the Wu Yi Shan are home to China’s revered yan cha or ‘rock oolong’ teas. These teas are made from sub-varieties of Camellia sinensis that are indigenous to this region and nowhere else in China. ( In fact, many of the world’s unique teas are made from sub-varieties of tea bushes that are particular to only one place ).
Yan cha are plucked from single varieties of old tea bushes or from younger generations of tea bushes that have been cultivated from the old varietals. Each tea is named for its specific tea bush variety (Da Hong Pao, Shui Jin Gui, Tie Lo Han, etc.) so specificity is important with these teas.
Yan cha has a majestic appearance that suggests that the liquor will be a heady cup. These are teas to be taken seriously. The leaves are long, broad, flat and slightly twisted, and have a rich, dark color from a high degree of oxidation. Traditional Wu Yi Shan oolongs are finish-fired or roasted over a low- temperature charcoal fire. Roasting imparts differing amounts of charcoal flavor to the leaves ( this is not the same thing as smoking!) depending on whether the roast is medium or heavy.
Our strip-style oolongs are from the current harvest year or have been rested for one or two years, or aged for more than 2 years. In China and Taiwan, oolong teas are chosen not just by style and amount of roasting, but also by the age of the tea. Oolongs can be drunk young, rested or aged, so tea drinkers take age into account as a primary variable when purchasing oolongs. Learning about the influence of aging adds awareness of what is being purchased, as well as a dimension of fascination and complexity to oolong teas.
Tea Trekker is proud to offer a first-class selection of yan cha to tea enthusiasts who seek well-defined, mature tastes and who are eager to experience the multiple infusions possible from these teas when steeping them Asian style.