This Rou Gui is really special. Due to its having been highly roasted, its aroma is very distinctive: there is a lot of deep mystery layered over the classic floral/stone fruit/freshness that it offers in the front of the mouth and nose. The tea is both heavily charcoal-roasted and also dark-leafed in overall style.
Rou Gui is one of the dozens of unique yan cha oolongs that are made from a namesake tea bush varietal growing throughout the Wu Yi Shan tea-growing region. While many tea enthusiasts are familiar with Da Hong Pao (perhaps the most famous yan cha), other great teas are made from their named tea bush varietals that have similar but different characteristics.
Many of these unique varietal oolongs are not very well known outside of China, so the opportunity to offer a selection of these unique teas to our tea enthusiast customers is very appealing to us.
The rou gui varietal is one of Bob’s favorite Wu Yi Shan oolongs and one that is not always available. Rou Gui translates from the Chinese as ‘cinnamon’, but that does not mean what it seems. It is not to suggest that the tea has a cinnamon taste, but that the tea has a character that is dry and somewhat woody in nature. There is an underlying floral sweetness in the taste and a highly aromatic fragrance that has less of the stony mineral-style that is bound into the floral nature of other Wu Yi Shan oolongs. These flavors and aromas will come to the forefront after a few steepings. So, the ‘cinnamon’ reference suggests complexity and dryness, and a little austerity, not an actual ‘cinnamon’ taste.
The manufacture of this lot is medium long and bulky, typical of the leaf size of most rou gui varietal tea, and also shows the careful processing that these teas receive. Rou Gui is elegantly shaped and the leaf has a slight twist and fold. The dry leaf is a uniquely dark charcoal/black color from the high roasting that it has received plus the necessary finish roasting.
We are very excited to have this oolong right now. The liquor is medium-amber in color, which is due to the fact that this tea is well-oxidized and roasted more than some other traditional Wu Yi Shan oolongs such as Da Hong Pao or Shui Jin Gui. One of the great attributes of Rou Gui is its generous amount of wonderful hui gan, aka ‘returning flavor‘, so if you enjoy being able to taste your tea for perhaps several hours after you finish drinking it, then this oolong is for you!