Home>>>City Guide>>>>Shopping>>>>Wuyishan

Wuyi Rock Tea

As the name implies, Wuyi rock tea grows in between the rocky cliffs of Mount Wuyi, which is known for its sheer precipices, overhanging rocks as well as gigantic valleys. The Potted Tea Plantation is realized by utilizing the rock valleys, rock cracks and constructing rock band alongside the edges. Rock tea got its name by only growing in between the rocky cliffs. Forfathers praised the Wuyi rock tea for its unique rock charm. Rock tea also pronounced Yan tea in Chinese means tea of strong flavor. It still remains one of the top ten Chinese tea.

Tea Production in Wu Yi Shan and the Origin of Wu Yi Wulong
Wu Yi Shan has a long history of producing famous tea. Nothern Fujian ascended to fame as the foremost tribute tea producing region during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) when the fields and factories of  the region were recognized as the producer of the nation’s best quality tea and hosted the epicenter of the government controlled tea industry. During the Song, all tea was essentially green tea that was compressed into cakes during its manufacture. The compressed tea from Wu Yi Shan was so sought after that it was renowned to be worth more than its weight in gold.

The arrival of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) forced Wu Yi’s craftsmen to change the way they made tea from the compressed form to the loose-leaf form we recognize today. With much difficulty in adapting to this new standard of production, Wu Yi Shan slowly retooled its infrastructure and began to make loose-leaf green tea, in an attempt to copy the technique from successful tea producers in Anhui. The producers of Wu Yi Shan, being unfamiliar with making pan fired green tea, inadvertently allowed their tea leaves oxidize. Their imperfect efforts at making loose leaf green tea sired the creation of partially oxidized wulong tea and fully oxidized black tea in Wu Yi Shan at the end of the Ming. Wu Yi Shan continues to produce the world most sought after wulong in the form of its famous Yan Cha.

The Climate and Tea Plant Biology of Wu Yi Shan
Throughout its history spanning dynasties, tea scholars have been attracted to the biologically diverse and unique climate of Wu Yi Shan. Even when the Scottish Spy, Robert Fortune, smuggled the first tea bushes out China, he traveled to Wu Yi Shan to take his samples.

In the last 1000 years, hundreds of varieties of tea bushes have been identified as growing in Wu Yi Shan. Out of these hundreds of bushes, Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Bai Ji Guan, Shui Jin Gui are considered the Four Famous Wu Yi Wulongs. Of the four, Da Hong Pao is unquestionably the most famous. What are considered to be the mother bushes of Da Hong Pao still live in the cliffs of Wu Yi Shan, and are now over 350 years old. Since Wu Yi shan has so many bush types, the famous teas are always produced in small quantities. They will never be truly common products, at least the tea grown inside the mountain range; there are a lot of areas in the surrounding mountains that are producing large quantities of these cultivars. Certainly the most common of the rock wulongs is Rou Gui, a cultivar that some locals rank as better than the more famous teas.

Wu Yi Shan’s climate offers a number of unique benefits to growing tea, most notably its mineral soil eroded from the volcanic rock faces. A layer of soft red soil lies about 10-40 cm thick on the ground of Wu Yi’s interior. This is the rich terrior that endows the characteristic flavor of Wu Yi’s tea. In Chinese, this distinctive flavor is expressed as “Yan Yun,” lit. “rock rhyme.”

The temperature averages 18C though the year, with a short frost time that won’t kill tea plants. Precipitation is abundant and the region is almost always in a shroud of fog. The humid conditions (80% humidity on average) keeps the soil moist and the bushes healthy. Besides the humidity, the cliffs are continually weeping its minerals into the soil.

Even though Wu Yi Shan’s elevation averages lower (650M) than other high quality tea growing regions, its ideal temperature, soil and weather more than compensates. Hundreds of big rocks, some the size of a small mountain, are spread though the area. There are ninety-nine large rock faces in the center of Wu Yi mountain, the Zheng Yan Cha growing area, alone. The Zheng Yan Cha growing region  itself is defined by two rivers encircling the heart of the region. There is a myth that a princess was separated from her lover by a monster, all three represented by towering rocks.  The princess and her lover are two tall monoliths, separated by a large plateau. The monster is the plateau, and it has many valleys scarring it. It is within the monster that the best teas grow, on its back and in the narrow, cliff-sided valleys in between.

There are several dozens  kinds of Wuyi Rock Tea. The four most famous ones are Da Hong Pao,Tie Luo Han,Bei Gong Ji and Shui Jin Yu.  Da Hong Pao, the best kind among oolong, and which grows on the crag of the Tianxin Rock, is clear and smells sweet after being brewed in boiled water.

The Tea Art of Wuyi Rock-essence Tea:
Burn incense and be calm . Burn the mineral water. Show the tea to the guests

  Pour the boiled water on the teapot. Drop the Oolong tea into the teapot Pour the boiled water into the teapot from high position. Spring wind fondle the face

  Oolong enters the sea. Pour the boiled water on the teapot once more The mother feeds her child. The lucky Dragon falls the rain . Phoenix bowing Conjugal Harmony . Carp Leaping into the Dragon’s Gate. Severing the Scented Tea .Appreciate the Tea Water. Smell Fine Frangrance . Sip Tea.

* Huo 活 - “activity, vibrancy.”
* Gan 甘 - “sweetness” – Emerging in the back of your throat and sides of your mouth, esp. a sweet aftertaste.
* Qing 清 - “purity” - Clean clear translucent liquor.
* Xiang 香 - Fragrance. Gentle, muted, arrives slowly, not sharp, deep. Not overwhelming, not mawkish, or too perfumed.
* Yan Gu – “rock bones” -The tea has such depth of flavor it’s like you’re eating some kind of meat.

Wuyi Rock Tea - Which to Buy?
If you are just starting out on Wuyi Rock tea, it is best you start with Dahongpao, Shuixian and Rougui. By doing this, you will stand a better chance of tasting quality teas.
Many people have been sold into the idea of Dahongpao being a tea so special that it is only available in small quantities.
The first part is true, Dahongpao is indeed special.
The second part is untrue. It is one of the most cultivated of Wuyi teas.

How to Store

Actually, it is simpler than you think.
Unlike green tea, you don't keep it in the fridge. You store it somewhere cool, dry, dark and odorless. Preferably it is a place with limited temperature variation.
Recommended practice is to re-roast the tea every 2 to 3 years.
You can't vacuum pack Wuyi tea (the leaves will break), but you can fill the storage container with nitrogen. It has been said that nitrogen storage can keep the tea fresh without the need for periodic re-roasting for up to 10 years.


Things to Do  Chinese Tea Culture              More

Oolong Tea / Wulong Tea

Anxi Tieguanyin Tea

Da Hong Pao China tea

How to Brew Kung Fu Tea