Rock 4×4

rock 4x4
rock 4×4

Rock 4×4 Wuyi Rock Oolong from White2Tea.

“The name Rock 4X4 comes from this blend of rock oolongs, which contains 4 different yancha varietals (tieluohan, rougui, shuixian and qidan) with 4 roasts. This blend has enduring aromas and a burly bite from both the flame and the strength of the tea. This blend is for seekers of strong tea; heavy handed roast and heavy handed character.”

White2Tea

I ordered this bunch of Rock Oolong, (Rock 4×4, Dahongpao, Stone Sparrow, Shui Xian, Shui Jin Gui, No.2 Rougui, No.8 Rougui, Jin Guan Yin, and Stone Milk,) in November of 2019.

For the last couple years I have had a tradition of drinking Rock Oolong in the first few months of the new year as a celebration and I wanted to be prepared for 2020.

Little did any of us know what 2020 would have in store. I started a new job, then COVID-19. I just never got around to drinking the 2019 White2Tea rock oolongs in 2020.

Fast forward, or slow forward, a year, and I am finally drinking the tea I had been most looking forward to of the bunch, Rock 4×4.

I sometimes joke that White2Tea makes all varieties of tea they sell with puerh drinkers in mind. Which is to say, they are not shy about flavor and they are not shy about energy in their teas, whatever the variety and wherever they come from.

And while this commonplace isn’t true of all the tea from White2Tea, it is true of this blend 4x rock tea varietals roasted 4 times. And check out that color! You can tell they weren’t shy about oxidation, either.

And while the roast character is heavy, and the flavor is heavy in the mouth, it is still a balanced tea somehow.

Well, anyway, if you like strong roast character and heavy oxidation in your Rock Oolongs, Rock 4×4 is one yancha that should be on your list to try.

rock 4x4
rock 4×4

Water is Life

I live in San Francisco where our water is mostly snowmelt from the Sierras (Hetch Hetchy) or pretty neutral water from a few city wells.

SF PUC does often add a pretty heavy dose of Chloramine, so the water does need to be filtered, (and there is sometimes a bit of off flavor,) but mostly a quick trip through a britta or maytag filter is all that you need to get it ready for tea.

After a bit of filtration, the water here is very neutral and ready to let almost any tea shine without much effort.

Other areas of the world, it can be a bit more challenging. For example, I grew up in the Midwest in an area where all the water came from wells tapping into limestone aquifers. The water there was horrible for tea. I spent much of my young life trying and trying to make a good cup of tea and failing over and over.

I recently visited an area of California where the tap water comes almost exclusively from volcanic mineral hot springs. The water there is so mineral laden that the it nearly tastes like tea just coming straight out of the tap.

The hotel where we stayed even filtered it heavily through the device pictured above. It tastes much better coming out of the filtering machine, but I still spent several days futilely trying to get a good cup of tea out of it, even with teas that I was familiar with from home. I dunno, I think maybe the mineral content makes it more challenging.

I suppose it is interesting, as in China mountain spring water is most often highly thought of for tea brewing, the most famous, of course, being that from the “Dragon Well” in Long jing, which is said to be very heavy in texture.

But, I don’t really remember the tea there tasting like anything but tea leaves in water.

In any case, it’s always good to remember that tea is 99.99% water. If the water doesn’t taste good, the tea you make from it won’t taste good either.

Steeped Dragonwell Tea-2

Gui Ding Yunwu

Gui Ding Yunwu
Gui Ding Yunwu

Gui Ding Yunwu tea from Tong Xin She.

It was almost 80F here yesterday, so time to get out the green tea.

However, the 2021 green teas aren’t quite available yet, so I pulled one out of the cabinet from last year. This is a Gui Ding Yunwu from Guizhou province, which I got from @tong_xin_she.

“Yunwu” means literally, “Cloud and Mist”, describing the weather and climate in the tea mountains and has become a bit of a generic name for roasted green teas. Gui Ding is the county in Guizhou that this tea comes from.

In the past, the better quality versions of this tea were thought of highly enough for this sometimes be an imperial tribute tea.

The little rolled buds and leaves are said to resemble fish hooks.

It reminds me a bit of a good quality Mao Jian, light flower and perfume in the scent with a hint of medicinal character, grainy honey sweetness in the flavor, a touch of astringency, and a long lasting aftertaste.

If I were an Imperial Official, I would be happy to have this Gui Ding Yunwu in my teacup.

#Tea #Cha #TongXinShe #GuiDingYunwu #GreenTea #DrinkTea #TeaLife

dahongpao

dahongpao
dahongpao

2019 dahongpao from White2Tea.

Among modern tea makers dahongpao, rather than referring to a very exclusive tea from a specific set of bushes in the Wuyi preserve, is usually a sort of house blend which the producers feel is representative of their house style. (Well, unless you notice the tea costs more than your mortgage for a gram or two.)

According to their website, the @white2tea dahongpao is a Meizhan heavy blend prepared along traditional lines, medium roast and oxidation.

White2Tea dahongpao is a very good introduction to the Wuyi Yancha style, balanced and with surprisingly punchy in energy content. It will get your morning going and stoke your enthusiasm and curiousity for Rock Oolong.

#dahongpao #tea #cha #RockOolong #Yancha #DrinkTea #TeaDrunkByNoon

no.8 rougui

no.8 rougui
no.8 rougui

no.8 rougui from white2tea.

“A different roasting style that highlights the mineral aspects and aromas that are classically associated with Rougui. Heavy feeling and a gorgeous profile that begs for time and attention.”

–White2Tea

No.8 rougui rock oolong from @white2tea.

According to the blurb, White2Tea requested a roasting style for this rougui that they were hoping would highlight “mineral aspects and aromas” in the tea.

And, indeed, there is very little perfume or fruit to this tea’s flavors. It is more on the savory side. There is a slight astringency, as well, that keeps things interesting. And it has flavor that keeps going for a few more steeps than is usual in a rock oolong.

No.8 rougui probably wouldn’t be my desert island rougui, but it is a super interesting tea that amplifies certain aspects of rock oolong in a fascinating manner.

If you’ve struggled with identifying the mineral character in rock oolong, here’s one that shows you exactly what that is all about.

#White2Tea #Yancha #rougui #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

2019 Luoyan Leafhopper

Luoyan Leafhopper
Luoyan Leafhopper

“This green oolong comes from the gardens of Luoyan Village [罗岩村]. Roughly 800 meters above sea level, the tea bushes grow in fields and terraces alongside a small variety of native plants…This is the Summer harvest, made in July of 2019. Because this tea was grown in the summer without any pesticides, leafhoppers bite the tea leaves and provide the tea with its distinctive sweetness. The picking standard of this tea is roughly 1 bud for every 2 leaves. The leaves were withered in the sun, shaken and oxidized by hand, and then fired and shaped by machine before drying. The tea itself is sweet, buttery and floral. It is a very approachable tea.”

Breathing Leaves Tea

One of the interesting parts about the tea scene is that occasionally people and companies simply just disappear. They stop posting to social media and their websites vanish. Ghost teas.

This is an Anxi Oolong that a company called “Breathing Leaves” sold a couple years ago. They’ve seemingly shut down since then and the proprietor has disappeared from social media.

The tea is called “Luoyan Leafhopper”. The first impressions are of the Ooolong perfume, and it is indeed sweet and thick, like a bug bitten tea, but with more astringency and, along green tea lines, and a bit of surprising, and pleasant, huigan, or lingering sweet bitterness, that makes itself known in the aftertaste as the tea cools.

It is a very nice tea. I am not usually a fan of low oxidation Oolongs and this is very well done. I am a bit sad that the company seems to have disappeared, (Or at least gone into hibernation, as the last time I looked, their website was still up, but the shop shuttered. I tried to contact the proprietor with comments about enjoying his teas, but received no response.)

(Not to mention, they also sold some really good, well priced, Puerh.)

Trying to build a brand on social media is a thankless job, seems like lightening in a bottle, one in a hundred thousand, unless you are previously famous, or have the guts and commitment for a very long haul. Take it from someone who has had websites for almost as long as there has been an internet, and even a pretty “successful” one for a while. Don’t think it’s easy path to quick money, success, and fame.

#Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #AnxiOolong #GreenTea #BreathingLeavesTea

“Bo Ya” Gushu and Wild Tea

“Bo Ya” GuShu & Wild Tea Sheng Puerh

Spring 2018 “Bo Ya” Gushu and Wild Tea Sheng Puerh Sheng Cha from King Tea Mall.

I had been enjoying John King’s Instagram feed when he posted the following summary of a new tea, a wild tree tea from the Bulang region in Menghai county.

“Regarding these wild tree, we still don’t know how old they are.
What it attracts me was the unique bitterness and soon coming Huigan (sweetness from aftertaste) and fell in love with it when I first tried it accidentally in Menghai.
Always hard to find accurate description words on this bitterness.
It is a wild, naughty flavor.”

I do really enjoy the way John describes his teas. It is slightly poetic, yet at the same time highly specific and descriptive.

As someone who enjoyed bitterness, (Broccoli Raab is one of my favorite vegetables, when I was drinking I imbibed copiously of the Amaro…) I almost felt like he was daring me to try this tea!

Who wouldn’t want to try a tea with, “a wild, naughty flavor”?

When I finally got around to ordering a cake of the tea he was describing, he said he would include some samples of others he thought I might like, given my interest in his Bitterly Wild and Naughty Tea.

I suppose I should have considered myself warned.

This tea is a blend of tea leaves from Wild trees and Old trees from the BanPen (班盆 which belongs to BanZhang tea area).

The opening flavors are quite bitter, they lead to middle flavors that are OK, but not amazing. Tobacco, Leather. Where this tea shines is in its outstanding and lengthy finish, camphor like flavors which seems to almost evaporate from your tongue. Oh, and it is one of those teas where you’re a couple cups in, and realize that it is zippy. Very Zippy. Or as John says, “Strong ChaQi makes mind clear and breath smooth and clear.”

Isn’t something like that the Mental Mantra from Frank Herbert’s “Dune”?

The Tea Must Flow!

#BoYaGushuPuerh #KingTeaMall #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

Biluochun Green Tea

The second (or sometimes the first ranked) green tea almost always included in the classic list of “China’s 10 Famous Teas” is called Bi luo Chun, from Suzhou in the Jiangsu province of China. Suzhou is a two hour drive North from Hangzhou, the home of Dragon Well tea. Suzhou is closer to Shanghai, basically directly West from there. This Bi Luo Chun is from Yin xiang hua xia tea and I believe it is their “Fresh Bi Luo Chun”.

Bi is green, Luo is Snail, and Chun is spring, so the tea’s name translates to Green Snail Spring. The sort of double twist that the tea is shaped into is said to resemble a snail out of its shell, (though it is harder to tell with these fine buds than it was with the coarse Bi Luo Chun from Yunnan.) It is very green, especially when Fresh, and it is only harvested in spring when the buds are smallest.

Bi Luo Chun is a much more delicate tea than Dragon Well. This is a particularly fine version, almost entirely the tiniest buds with very few leaves.

It reminds me a bit of the Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle White Tea, though it does have some of the same nut character as Dragon Well. It is almost light enough to be a white tea, and it is certainly as bud forward as the Jade Needle tea was, though, of course, the Yunnan tea had much larger buds than these tiny things, which are barely bigger than your fingernail.

For being such a light tea, it is suprisingly re-steepable, with a clean refreshing broth and very long lasting aftertaste.

#Tea #Cha #DrinkTea #YinXiangHuaXiaTea #GreenTea #BiLuoChun