Wuyi Zhengyan Da Hong Pao Qi Dan Varietal From Mei Leaf
Basic info about this special tea: Qi Dan Varietal
May 2017 Tea
From Zhengyan, Wuyi, Fujian.
Picking Grade: Up to third or fourth leaf.
500 m above sea level.
Temperature ( 99-100degrees celsius)
Brewing Vessel (90ml Jingdezhen gaiwan)
Grams of Leaves ( 5 grams)
Steeping Time ( less than 10 seconds per infusion, and every infusions increasing the time by 10 to 15 seconds)
Number of Total Steepings: 8 infusions.
Aroma of Dry Leaves: Freshly made coffee, almost smoky but quite. Deep and grounding, well rounded.
Aroma of Wet Leaves: Medicinal, distinctive rocky terroir aroma. A little bit of citrus at the end.
Taste Profile: See in paragraphs.
Texture Profile: Honey like thickness with incredible body. I have to mention that for this tea.
Feeling/Aftertaste: Changes through each infusion. Mainly chocolatey and sweet, but turns more into fruit in later infusions.
Price: 22 CAD /30 grams
Attitude Ranking: 8.5 /10
A little bit of history behind the tea and where the terroir comes from.
“Da Hong Pao is one of China’s most revered and highly sought after teas. This tea is grown on Bai Yun Yan mountain in the protected area of Zhengyan in the beautiful Wuyi mountains of Fujian Province, a nine peak mountain with vast rocky fingers pointing to the sky. The mineral rich, fast draining terrain make it the only place to grow true Empress Oolong.”
“The tea is produced by hand and is then roasted for many hours slowly over real charcoal fires. This adds a warmth, smoothness and nutty depth to the tea. We advise avoiding any of these roasted oolongs for at least 6 months after they have been produced in order to let the ‘fire’ taste of the charcoal roasting to reduce. This is why we always stock tea picked in the previous year.”
These two paragraphs really made me thirsty for this tea! I would love to visit Zhengyan one day. But, it is a World Heritage Site, so getting access into the area is very expensive. People have told me that just to get in you have to pay around 50 dollars per person. However, I do think it’s an amazing area for tea lovers and people who want to explore more of China and see something eye-opening. The rocky terroir makes it such a good area for tea to grow, and it is said that many Oolong and Black teas originally came from the Wuyishan area. I believe that Wuyishan can be called as one of the few birthplaces to tea and especially to Oolong and Black teas.
Tasting through the Infusions.
First Infusion: Delicious, and very savory at start. Body and depth is excellent, while the balance between the roasting and preservation of the original characters of the Qi dan Varietal is well done. I can notice the flavors changing slowly with time as the savouriness develops into sweetness. Huigan is coming out but not fully present.
Second Infusion: Taste turns 180 Degrees: Flavors change from the coffee like start into more of a strawberry or ripe apricot taste. However, it is a dry taste; the flavors are on top of one another and hidden. A very complex turn inside and out, as I am starting to feel something from my shoulders.
Third to Fifth Infusion : The tea is so complex that I can’t exactly pinpoint what I am tasting. But very thick on the pallet, with a fruity overtone before swallowing. The minerality is definitely strong, with a deep apricot taste arising in the cup more. Sounds funny but I kinda think that the infusions taste more like a broth than tea. The sweetness and after taste or huigan is stronger than previous infusions.
Fifth to Sixth: Notes are too complex by now, resulting in incredible sweetness. My tongue cannot stop salivating. I have never experienced this from a Yancha before; was truly amazed. The taste is not particularly medicinal, not fruity either. It is more of it’s own taste.
Sixth to Eighth.
Silky smooth with a bit of astringency and a little bit of chestnut if you dig hard enough, but I couldn’t get anymore out of it. I think Yanchas are a little less durable for consistent infusions of more than 10 brews. Each brew is very thick and if you can brew it for at least 8 that would be considered a good Yancha.
I am very new to the world of Yancha and Oolong, but I did very much enjoy this session of Qi Dan Dahongpao from Mei Leaf. The energy and mouthfeel combined with the aromatics of this Yancha just made me wow. I gave a 8.5 out of 10 because I did find that the tea ended a little bit too fast. I wished that the fruity and chocolaty aroma lasted just a bit longer, but the taste transformed throughout different infusions so that was super interesting.
I am excited to try something that’s again roasted, but a traditional TGY from Fujian that’s full of baked fruits and sweet candy notes. Should be delicious and fun to review.