With dark and twisted leaves, Wuyi oolong teas are deep, complex, and richly roasted. This is how oolong tea began.
Wuyi Mountain of northwestern Fujian has the longest known tradition of oolong tea production. Grown along steep cliffs, Wuyi’s yan-cha (“crag tea”) is known for its characteristic dark and rich roasted flavor, the result of heavy oxidation and centuries old roasting techniques.
The life of a Wuyi Mountain oolong begins with harvest in mid-May.
Leaves are then transformed using time-honored methods – first sun-withered, bruised and oxidized, then roasted over charcoal.
Finishing roasts are the crux of the crafting process. Today, standard Wuyi oolong teas are baked in electric convection ovens. In contrast, higher grades, such as our Heritage roasts, are finished with traditional charcoal baking - successive careful roasts performed by hand over ash-lined charcoal pits. This attention to detail bestows these teas with uncommon complexity in flavor and aroma.
Geography is the most important factor determining the quality of Wuyi oolongs. Oolongs that are actually grown on the cliff side tea gardens are referred to as “zheng yan” or “true cliff”. These teas will have distinct minerally characteristics.
While the quality of its raw leaf is certainly important, how a Wuyi oolong is crafted is also integral to its grade. The best Wuyi oolongs are crafted entirely by hand from picking to roasting. Adherence to traditional charcoal roasting methods rather than convection baking will create a tea more nuanced and multifaceted. Infused leaves should be unbroken and show even distribution of reddish brown hues throughout. Hand picking, sorting, and roasting create a more delicious tea consisting of more intact whole leaves. With a good roast, the oolong will be smooth with a caramelized flavor, opening up to notes of fruit, spice, wood or dark chocolate with subsequent infusions. Most of all it should have a nice, persistent finish, or “hui gan”.
Our Finest Heritage Beidou
Something Different Heritage Aijiao
Beidou is the closest in lineage to the original Da Hong Pao trees. It's the standard from which all Wuyi oolongs are measured. Heritage Aijiao, on the other hand, is closest in lineage to Formosa oolong, and has a unique flavor profile unlike most Wuyis. We recommend both.