Horse Meat Wuyi Oolong (馬頭岩肉桂, Mǎ Tóu Yán Ròu Guì, "Horse Head Cliff Cassia") - In the grand tradition of naming teas, especially oolongs, after bizarre or unappetizing things (see: Duck Shit), the name Horse Meat comes from an abbreviation of this tea's full name, Mǎ Tóu Yán Ròu Guì, which means "Rou Gui from Horse Head Cliff." Mǎ Tóu Yán Ròu Guì is a mouthful, so in Chinese it gets abbreviated to Mǎ Ròu 馬肉 ("Horse Meat"), which takes the first character of the location and the first character of the tea breed. This is because Ròu Guì 肉桂 literally translated means "Meat Osmanthus" and refers to a cinnamon-like plant called Cassia. Ròu Guì is an ancient breed that has emerged in recent years as one of the most sought after high-end Wuyi Oolong breeds, and the finest Ròu Guì comes from Horse Head Cliff. The terroir or dì wèi 地味 ("earth taste") of Horse Head Cliff brings out the natural minerality and birch bark and cinnamon notes of the breed.
Chicken Cage Pole (雞籠杆, Jī Lóng Gān, "Chicken Cage Pole") is an obscure breed of Phoenix Oolong named for the shape of the mother tree, which has a reticulated structure and a thick-branched trunk reminiscent of a chicken cage. While uncommon in America, chicken cages are still regularly seen in China, often on the back of motorcycles in the countryside. Tea trees that are closer in proximity to the mother tree with respect to generations of clones are of higher quality and are more highly sought-after than clones of clones of clones. Being less-widely distributed than more common cultivars (we have not yet found anyone else in the region producing this tea other than A Long), this tea is grown from trees that are much closer to the mother plant than most standard grades. Notes of sesame oil and sushi salmon umami mixed with a bubblegum or starburst fruitiness and undertones of toasted corn. Taste of ripe starfruit upon sipping.
Apricot Kernel (杏仁香, Xìng Rén Xiāng, "Apricot Kernel Fragrance") is one of the ten original lineages of Phoenix Oolong, from which the hundreds of varieties of Oolong trees now living in the Phoenix Mountains descend. In Chinese, the term Xìng Rén 杏仁 refers to both the seed of the apricot, as well the closely related almond. In the West, the seeds of apricots and other stone fruits are often referred to as "bitter almonds" in a culinary context. We have chosen to translate the name Apricot Kernel as such because the fragrance of this medium high-oxidized Phoenix Oolong has as much in common with the flesh of the Apricot as it does with the almond. Robust, fruity, slightly malty, and with a rich, nutty character, this tea receives a stronger charcoal roast than lower-oxidized oolongs, such as Osmanthus or Magnolia Fragrance. Apricot Kernel Fragrance can become bitter if oversteeped, but when skillfully poured has a dynamic fragrance and flavor that traverses a landscape of floral, fruity, and almond notes.