wuyi yancha

4

The origins of Wuyi Rock oolong: Shuixian. First, there were one of the few extant species of arbor type teas in the world, the mid size leaf tree type Camellia Sinensis called Shuixian. Successfully propagating Wuyi Mountain area after Phoenix Mountain, the trees were later differentiated by subspecies into various famous groves, or Ming Cong, such as Water Golden Turtle, Dahongpao. From green leaf to black dragon, one of the most profound teas in the world will be explored in depth by our fellow tea aficionado tour group. Today: perfect fall weather, last day of production, and of Rougui oolong. Took them into the wild Old Groves Shuixian forest.

What do you want the Americans to know most about your teas, I asked Mr. Zhang? He being easily one of the most uncompromising tea artisans I know, I prefaced by saying that Americans are trained on mass produced black teas with cream and sugar so don’t expect too much. Mr. Zhang replied that Wuyi teas have the strongest body and an intensity that will get better with age, as opposed to light fragrance oolongs-sissies, to them. Their long 6 month charcoal roasting process is extremely demanding xtreme-tea-making, and no other tea in the world requires this much knowledge and expertise in its processing. Appreciate its depth, its thickness, its mouthfeel, palate fragrance, the 20 steepings. I think the most expensive tea we carry are now Mr. Zhang’s Wuyi oolongs. For me, it’s the last frontier and contribution to our mission at Teance of introducing the world’s best teas. Mr. Zhang does not need more demand for his teas though. Selling out just to the local connoisseurs are a matter of course. Taking years to introduce the tea to Americans, traveling 10,000 miles at a time- people do wonder about me a little. Here I pause and wonder why I bother, but tomorrow, I’ll head out to another farm again regardless. Sometimes there’s really no reason for doing something worthwhile.

2

Even being at the paradise of tea farms, my tea buying adventures are still very strenuous. Today, I have been mosquito food for maybe the entire village of mosquitoes already. I am also fighting the desire to suddenly pass out into sleep, whilst drinking some of the strongest tea known to mankind. Mr.Zhang and various villagers drop in to find out about some real information they are curious about but can’t get, such as how much cars cost in the U.S. An average automobile that costs $35,000 USD can cost $75,000 easily in China. The middlemen make a killing. Yet their income tax is something like 3%. What about that election next year, they want to know? As long as it’s not a Bush again, they mused. Why hasn’t the U.S. attacked North Korea if they are so against Communist governments? Simple, I replied, without any basis for my opinion. No oil there, and it’s a monarchy, not a Communist country. It’s impoverished as hell and it will implode anyway, the tea villagers reasoned. The conversation turned once again to Xi Jin Ping’s crackdown on the corruption. Government offices can no longer buy 1000 RMB a Jin teas for office consumption( about $180 a lb). The offices I know in the U.S. serve Lipton teabags at 10 cents each…. Well, the cultural exchanges at every farm are always very interesting. According to the villagers, no foreigners ever come there to buy these authentic, but expensive, highly prestigious Wuyi teas. They buy fake stuff from import companies. No one even goes there from Hong Kong, or Beijing, for that matter. I might as well be Alien Visitation. I am teaching myself to master the final hurdle, I told them - the strongest tea in the universe, Rougui tea. For that reason alone, I just travelled some 10,000 miles, fighting mosquitoes and possible purse snatchers along the way. Why not? What would I be doing in the Bay Area today otherwise? Go get tomatoes at the farmer’s market?