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Wuyi Rock Tea (Wuyi Yancha) FAQ
1. What is 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. Wuyi 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.
According to the current national standard, being bred and planted in the natrual ecological invironment of Mount Wuyi, Wuyi rock tea falls into the category of Oolong tea produced with unique traditional processing techniques (shape of tea stripe) with rock charm. As a renowned tea it is under the protection of products of origin by PRC.
2. What is QiDan Dahongpao?
According to the legend, QiDan, the original name for Dahongpao, refers to tea from the six trees that look red from far away because of their purple-red gender shoots in early spring in Jiulongchao, Mount Wuyi.
Since 2007, Dahongpao tea trees in Mount Wuyi have been specially protected. It is forbidden to pluck their tea leaves to make sure they grow well; tea specialists look after them in a scientific way and detailed record of management is established; the nearby environment is strictly protected. Many years ago Chinese tea specialists started to cultivate Dahongpao trees by stem cutting propagation (asexual propagation). The tea from Jiulongchao cultivated in this way is also called QiDan Dahongpao, which is not as authentic as Dahongpao made with Qidan tea from the Wuyi Zhengyan tea producing area in the eyes of tea specialists.
3. How much market share does the purebred Dahongpao have and what about the blended one?
Purebred Dahongpao has only a small market share partly due to its small production. The main reason for that is it is hard to be accepted as purebred Dahongpao by tea masters although it is truely purebred, therefore, it is just used as common tea or blended Dahongpao. Blended Dahongpao has market share of more than 80%.
4. Which is better, the purebred Dahongpao(Big-Red-Robe) or the blended Dahongpao?
In general, the well-done purebred Dahongpao is better in taste and fragrance than the blended one and vice verse. It is not right and fair to judge merely by its origin.
5. What is Wuyi Zhengyan Tea(also called Mingyan Tea, tea of famous rock) and where does it grow?
It grows within the scenic spots of the Wuyishang City covering an area of 70 square kilometers with the east to Chongyang Stream, south to Nanxing Road, west to Gaoxing Road and north to Huangbai Stream.
6. What is Wuyi Danyan tea and where does it grow?
It grows within the oringinal Wuyi rock tea producing area except those producing Mingyan Tea.
7. What are so called "Three Pits and Two Gullies?"
It refers to Huiyuan Pit, Niulan Pit, Daoshui Pit, Liuxiang Gully and Wuyuan Gully in the old days, which are symbolic places of Zhengyan tea producing areas. These places feature steep cliffs, good environment, small streams, low temperature difference between summer and winter. The soil of Zhengyan tea producing areas is highly permeable, rich in potassium and manganese, and proper in PH value, which contribute to the tea's rock charm. Now, Zhengyan tea producing areas mainly include: Tianxin Rock, Matou Rock, Huiyuan Pit, Zhuchao, Bishi, Yanzichao, Royal Tea Garden, Yuhua Dong, Shuilian Dong, Fuoguo, Taohua Dong, Guilin, Sanyang Peak, etc. According to the national standards, these places are generally called Mingyan tea producing area or Mount Wuyi scenic reserves.
8. What is rock charm of Wuyi rock tea? Is there any difference between the tea from Mingyan and Danyan producing areas as far as rock charm is concerned?
Rock charm is the charming flavor unique for Wuyi rock tea, a kind of good-quality old fir Oolong tea growing on the Danxia landform of Mount Wuyi. The tea trees are scientifically looked after and tea is processed with traditional techniques. Rock charm is also related with tea trees' growing environment, species, cultivation management and processing techniques. Rock charm has extensive and profound connotation of which everyone has his own understanding. It is a taste hard to describe and a feeling hard to explain. But it is true in life. Wuyi rock tea's rock charm is something different from that of other kinds of tea. It lies in every kind of Wuyi rock tea and can only be expressed by tea soup. Charm is a feeling that makes people feel delightful and full of imagination. If some tea leaves a lingering taste in our mouth and makes us physically and mentally comfortable, then the tea has the charm. However, everyone has his own understanding of rock charm.
Mr.Yao, a specialist on Wuyi rock tea, once commented: good-quality Wuyi rock tea features rock charm which is the Bone of Rocks or Taste of Rocks. It is a mellow and thick taste lingering in your mouth for a long time. He believes that tea trees in gravel and sandy soil grow better and produce better tea.
Natural environment plays an important part in the quality of rock tea. The same species of tea processed in the same way may vary in quality if they are living in different environment. In the Wuyi rock tea producing areas, Mingyan producing area is defined as the 70-square-kilometer area in the scenic reserve, while the other areas are generally called Danyan producing area. The tea from Mingyan producing area has better quality, with a mellow and thick taste and a strong rock charm. Danyan producing area, the margin lands of Mount Wuyi, features the high-altitude landform which is subject to drought and its soil which is not as good as that in Mingyan producing area. The tea produced there has a sweet fragrance, a mellow and granulated sugar-like taste, but a weak rock charm. Processing technique is also the key factor as far as the quality of tea is concerned. If not processed properly, the tea picked up from Mingyan producing area cannot be of high quality. On the contrary, the tea from an area that is not as good as Mingyan producing area can also be made high quality with good processing techniques.
9. How many kinds of Wuyi rock tea are there?
Mount Wuyi is the kingdom for tea. Products of Wuyi rock tea are divided into Dahongpao, Mingcong, Rougui, Shuixian and Qizhong, according to the National Standard for Wuyi rock tea（GB18745-2002）which was published and came into force after application for "Protected Products From Original Place" for Wuyi rock tea. Although not categorized as Mingcong, Dahongpao is actually the best kind of Mingcong, and is regarded as King of Tea. Thousands of kinds of tea products, including Tieluohan, Baijiguan, Shuijingui, Bantianyao, can be categorized into Mingcong. Generations of Mount Wuyi locals kept Wuyicaicha with single-plant-selection method, and finally cultivated Dancong of good quality, which is processed and renamed as Huaming. After comparison and competition, the best of Huaming tea is again renamed as Mingcong. With the expansion of planting areas and productions, Mingcong accounts for certain proportion in the Wuyi rock tea producing areas and is also among the Protected Products from Original Place. It features rock charm and tastes mellow, thick, sweet and brisk, mixed with a flavor of wild tea. Its soup is orange yellow and bright. Mingcong tea tree requires an ideal environment, so most of them grow up in Mingyan producing area. In recent years, dozens of kinds of good-quality Oolong tea trees have been introduced into Mount Wuyi , such as Dangui, Huangguanyin, Jinguanyin, Huangdan, Huangqi, Aijiaowulong, Maoxie, Meizhan, Qilan, Baxian, which generally have distinct characteristics, pleasant fragrance, but a weak rock charm.
Rougui was originally one kind of Mingcong tea, and now has been selected and cultivated in Fujian Province. It is a tea of asexual propagation, shrub with medium leaf and extra-late sprouting. The tea features tight and heavy tea stripes, black and sand green color, thick cinnamon-like fragrance, mellow, sweet, thick and somehow irritant taste, orange yellow(or golden yellow) and bright tea soup, soft and bright green leaves rimmed with red color. In recent years, Rougui has undergone ever-changing development. It inherits the characteristics of traditional Wuyi tea’s taste, and is favored for its lingering fragrance. Now, it is an Upstart among all kinds of Wuyi rock tea. In recent years, Rougui has won gold medals for many times in national tea competitions.
Shuixian is a nation-level species of tea with distinct varietal characteristics, strong rock charm and dedicate smell. Its quality becomes better as the tea trees grow older. It is a tea of asexual propagation, dungarunga, large leaf and extra-late sprouting. It features fat and strong tea stripes with black green and a little gemstone color, sand-like spots at the back of leaves, broad and flat chief veins of phyllopodium, orchid-like dedicate fragrance, thick, mellow, sweet and brisk palm leaf-like taste, orange yellow (or golden yellow) tea soup, bright and soft leaves with green inside and red around. And it is adaptive to be made repeatedly. Shuixian with large and fat leaves is a traditionally well-known tea in Mount Wuyi which fragrance is rich, clean and mellow, just like that of the orchid. It is famous at home and abroad and once won the gold medal on Panama International Fair in 1915.
Wuyi Mingcong is a variety group with single-plant-selection method. Most of them are shrub with medium leaf and extra-late sprouting. It is with tight, even and orderly shape, green and brown color, smooth feel, natural flower smell fine and long lasting, mellow cool and refreshing taste with rock charm, bright orange yellow soup. In style it is a variety between Rougui and Shuixian, and most have wild tea flavor.
10. What is the difference between delicate-fragrance Wuyi rock tea and traditional Wuyi rock tea?
There are two varieties of delicate-fragrance Wuyi rock tea. One is processed with slight fermentation and baking, and has clean and fresh fragrance, which smells like fresh flower, typical for tea processed with a low degree of green making. But this technique is immature, the fragrance does not remain for a long time, and the tea cannot endure long-term storage, so few adopt this technique to process tea. The other adopts a traditional semi-fermented technique, which differs from that of traditional Wuyi rock tea only in the degree of baking. Slightly baked Wuyi rock tea, also called delicate-fragrance tea, has fresh, high, sharp and long-lasting fragrance, which smells like mature fruits. It is typical for tea processed with a high degree of green making, yet a low degree of baking. This kind of tea also features sweet and pleasant taste mixed with a little astringency, distinct varietal characteristics, orange or golden yellow soup, fresh and eyeable infused leaves. But compared with the traditional Wuyi rock tea, it cannot endure long-term storage and is subject to go bad. It is suitable for new customers of Wuyi rock tea and modern young people.
The characteristics of traditional Wuyi rock tea are as follows: heavy fermentation, medium baking and final firing; thick and steady fragrance which leaves a trace at the bottom of the tea cup (a flower, fruit or honey fragrance can be found in the tea of the best quality); mellow, thick and smooth taste with strong rock charm; having the quality of being made repeatedly; mild properties of tea that does not hurt people's stomach; frog skin-like infused leaves with little appreciation value. It endures long-term storage if kept properly, so it is a better choice if customers cannot finish it in a short time. The two kinds of tea mentioned above have their own advantages, and one can make a choice to his or her preference. Yet it is lucky and enjoyable to have either kind of tea of the best quality.
11. Which season in a year produces Wuyi rock tea of the best quality?
Wuyi rock tea plucked in spring is the best. Wuyi rock tea can be classified as spring tea, summer tea, autumn tea and winter tea (plucked and processed in October). Spring tea and water in spring are the best; winter tea has the best fragrance; the quality of autumn tea is ordinary and that of summer tea is the worst which tastes very bitter and astringent. The tea's quality is closely connected with the physiological characteristics of tea trees as well as weather and climate. Nowadays, most tea workers and factories in Mingyan producing area only produce spring tea and a small quantity of winter tea. Those in Danyan producing area pluck and process tea in no more than three seasons. Generally speaking, a choice is always made between autumn tea and winter tea.
12. How to appreciate and drink Wuyi rock tea?
Due to the bothering processing, professional techniques, and foremost the fastidiousness of tea making, infusion, appreciating and drinking, the Wuyi rock tea is also called Kung Fu Tea, which requires distinct water quality, tea set, making and infusing craft, appreciating skill and knowledge, etc. Otherwise, the charm and uniqueness of every rock tea soup will not be fully presented, and the essence embedded in the tea will not be realized. Only with the correct way, the boundless joy will be experienced.
Tea set: Prepare a tea set specially used for oolong tea (the dark red enameled pottery or Sancai cup of 90～150 milliliter is preferred for tea making and infusion).
Quantity of tea leaves required: About half of the volume of the tea pot (1/3～2/3).
Water used for tea infusion: mountain spring is the best, and clean river water or purified water is also preferred. The hard tap-water or that with obvious chloration cannot be used. The boiling water ought to be used immediately. The water with temperature less than 95° or boiling for several times is inferior.
Infusion Time: The first three tea soups need 10 to 20 seconds each time, and the time increases by 10 to 20 seconds with one more time of the tea soup made. The principle for infusion time adjustment is that, for the first seven tea soups, the flavor would be in accordance with the tea color, and then turns to be weaker. The tea can be repeatedly made for more than 10 times. The infusion time directly influences the times of tea soups made: the longer the infusion time, the fewer times of tea soups made.
Adjustment of flavor: It depends on the quantity of tea leaves for every tea soup. If the flavor needs to be weaker, the tea leaves would be measured at 1/3～1/2 of the volume of the tea pot, and if stronger, it would be measured at 1/2～2/3.
Essentials in tea appreciation: rock tea tastes mellow and thick, and has rich essence and special rock charm; tea trees' varietal characteristics can be reflected in the taste; the fragrance of tea can be either high or long, mellow or long-lasting, and it may smell like flowers, fruits, frankincense or honey. One also should smell the fragrance of tea and taste it repeatedly for several times. Specifically, one should smell the fragrance of dry tea, water and infusion leaves, and the fragrance left on the cover and bottom of the tea cup. When appreciating tea, one should make a contact with the tea soup using every corner of his mouth cavity and every part of his tongue for several times, savor its mellowness, thickness, sweetness and lingering taste, and then make a comprehensive judgment on the tea's characteristics and qualities.
13. What are the characteristics of the superior Wuyi rock tea?
1. Shape: The texture is close and the weight is compact. The length of the tea stripe, which is tight and relatively slender, is neither too long nor too short. For Shuixian, the leaves are comparatively large, and the stripes could be slightly thick, but still pure, tidy and beautiful.
2. Color: Due to the appropriate malaxation and moderate baking, the so-called Treasure color is appeared, which directs to the color of bright green brown, and the frog skin shaped small white spots could be seen on the surface of the stripes.
3. Fragrance: As a kind of the semi-fermented tea, the rock tea is provided with a fragrance, combined with the faint scent of the green tea and the deep aroma of the black tea. Without strong, fresh and long lasting fragrance, the rock tea cannot be described as the superior one.
4. Color of the tea soup: It is normally clear, florid and luteous, which will not be lightish even until the third or fourth tea soup.
5. Flavor: A strong fragrant flavor can be tasted once into mouth, and a lubricious feeling would be felt through the throat. Even the bitter of theine can be tasted at the beginning, gradually the bitter turns to be a kind of palatable relish. The quality of rock tea almost depends on the flavor, which would be mellow, elegant and rich for the superior one.
6. Times of tea soup: For the better tea, its flavor remains after the fifth tea soup, and for the best, its fragrance is still lingering till the eighth tea soup, and the aftertaste is agreeable till the ninth tea soup.
7. Infused leaves: The preferable tea would be easily unfolded and be unusually soft, when it is infused into the boiled water. The leaf margin shows some silver vermilion, and the middle is bright green with somewhat yellow, what’s more, the veins are light yellow. In this way, the infused leaves are described as so-called “green leaves rimmed with red color”.
14. How to store Wuyi rock tea?
Usually temperature of below 20 degrees C is required to store the Wuyi rock tea. If sealed, dried and properly stored it can keep for over 18 months. Generally speaking, it is not easy to store the Fen-flavor(light flavor) Wuyi rock tea which will easily turn green and grassy if not kept well. However, the flavor of the traditional rich-flavor Wuyi rock tea(with medium baking temperature) is easy to be kept with mellower and thicker taste after a long time storage. Because the tea stripe is easy to be destroyed it is not suitable to vacuumize it. Usually it is better to be with package of rigid type outside and with aluminum foil package inside. It is easy to keep it. Just seal and put it under dry condition, never expose it under the sun. It is just ok to tighten the tea bag or put it in stainless steel tin or in the caddy of good sealability after use. It is not recommended to store it in refrigerator. To keep it in refrigerator is also ok if it is properly sealed with aluminum foil, otherwise, it will become damp.
15. Is Wuyi rock tea suitable for aging?
Wuyi rock tea with good quality is suitable for aging. The aging of rock tea has a very long history with rich experimental experience. As tea lovers know, with respect to flavor the newly-made rock tea with final firing of medium or high baking temperature cannot be drunk right away. You’d better keep it for months or even years before drink. At that time it tastes mellower and thicker with lingering flavor. It is not easy to keep the traditonal light firing tea which has nice fragrance and is sold early in the market. If not kept well it will turn green and grassy, therefore, aging is not recommended. Although it is widely acknowledged that high qulaity rock tea with final firing is suitable for aging, as for the best aging duration there is still no set answer and specific standard to follow. It remains an issue to be studied and discussed by researchers and experts. The well-kept high quality aging rock tea with final firing retains nice fragrance with soft long-lasting flavor. And the final firing rock tea with years of aging tastes mellow,thick and sweet. Nowadays there are two types of aging rock tea sold in the market. The one is the tea of low quality unsold the first year. The other is the one of high quality with special aging. Generally speaking Shuixian, Dahongpao and Mingcong is suitable for aging.
16. What effect can Wuyi rock tea do to health?
Wuyi rock tea grows in the weathered rocks and soil of Mount Wuyi. The weathered rocks and soil are abundant with minerals which are aborbed by tea trees, therefore, the tea is rich in mineral substances such as Kalium, Zinc,Selenium etc. In 1847, Roret discovered Tannin (catechin)in tea and extracted Acid Bohea from Wuyi rock tea. In 1861, Hasse.Whaits proved that Acid Bohea was mixture of gallic acid, oxalic acid,tannin and quercetin etc. Thus it can be seen that Wuyi rock tea has substances of pharmacological functions and good nutrition, and excels other kind of tea. Test by Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Wuyi rock tea has functions as follows, antiaging, cancer prevention, immunity enhancement, cardiovascular disease prevention, weight loss, beauty effect, protection of urinary and digestive systems, eye disease prevention, cool and refreshing, nerve system exciting, decanting, harmful ion precipitation, antiphlogosis, virus killing and prevention, radioresistance, radiation injuries curing etc.. And international friends once highly praised Wuyi rock tea for its sweet flavor and curing functions, and called it the Myth of the Universe.
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