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.
Sticky Rice Shu Pu'er (糯米香熟普洱, Nuò Mǐ Xiāng Shú Pǔ'ěr, "Sticky Rice Fragrance Ripened Pu'er") - This traditional style of scented Pu'er is popular with the Báizú 白族 ("Bai Ethnicity") minority peoples of Yunnan. Starting with high quality small-pile 小堆子 fermented Pu'er leaves from Nannuo mountain, the tea is scented with the leaves of Nuò Mǐ Xiāng, an herb with a sweet cereal fragrance reminiscent of fresh cooked glutinous rice. The herb is said to aid in digestion, and complements the rich earthy character of Nannuo Shu Pu'er. It produces a dark, red-brown infusion combining the loamy depth of Shu with the pleasant toasted grain aroma of the sticky rice fragrance plant, set against a background of characteristic Nannuo Mountain minerality.
Rather than being made from the leaves of the tea bush, this incredibly rare tea is made from the velvety stem of finely plucked spring shoots. These antlers wonderfully express the unique terroir of this extraordinary tea garden. Only a few kilos can be produced each year.
One of the most remarkable things about Antlers is that they get better and better with each infusion. The water penetrates deeper into the stems and the flavour changes with each steep. The apricots remain, but a deeper, woody, umami taste gently reveals itself behind the soft, sweet fruit. It truly becomes more and more divine.
For the first infusion, use 3g per cup and add 150ml boiling water to soften the stems and steep for two minutes. But don’t worry if you overdo it. The woody stems take time and don’t contain much tannin, so leaving them for five minutes or longer won’t be at all disastrous.
You don’t need to re-boil the kettle between each infusion. Each cup will be cooler, but the stems will be softer. You may need to lengthen the infusion times as the stems start to exhaust, and reheat the water if it cools too much, but don’t give up on them. I’ve made eleven infusions from the same pot.
Sitting between a green and a black tea, traditional Oolong is withered by the sun and air, bruised through rolling, semi-oxidized and baked, then twisted and rolled into small spheres with purple and green hues before a final roast.
Grown on Dong Ding mountain in Taiwan, this Oolong is harvested from a 4th generation farm and nurtured using a distinct set of cultivar to bring forth its optimized flavor. Handpicked and slow roasted over charcoal wood, our Dong Ding Oolong represents the coupling of impeccably grown leaves harvested under optimal conditions in the high mountains of Taiwan and traditionally processed by an expert tea master.
Naturally rich in probiotics, Oolong is optimal for a happy belly. Coupled with its caffeine this is the perfect tea to start your day.
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.
2013 Effulgence Gong Mei Bing (靈光貢眉白茶餅, Líng Guāng Gòng Méi Bái Chá Bǐng, "Holy Light Tribute Eyebrow White Tea Cake") - We're excited to be able to share this remarkable tea. It is an amazing example of a well-aged, 7+ year white tea "treasure" cake. The full maturity of the cake results in a slow oxidation of the leaves, giving this tea a warm, rich, sweet character that is less dark than a Shou Mei. The bud-heavy composition of this cake lends a balanced clarity to the infusion with little to no tannic astringency. It exchibits notes of pine and cedar, clarified fermented berries and plums, and cured cannabis. The mouthfeel is viscous and sweet, and the Qi is evocative of golden light dripping down the body like thick icing down the side of a cake.
Lychee Gummy Yellow Tea (都勻黃茶, Dūyún Huáng Chá, "Duyun Yellow Tea") - One of our favorite new teas of 2020. Yellow teas have become increasingly rare in China due to the demanding hand-processing necessary to achieve the light oxidation that is their defining characteristic. This delicious and energizing yellow tea hails from Duyun, a region in Guizhou famed for its unspoiled beauty and pristine environment. Although Guizhou teas are not generally well-known outside Guizhou, the teas of Duyun are beginning to receive national recognition for their excellence. This soft, downy, early-spring yellow tea has the unmistakable aroma of the eponymous Lychee-flavored gummy candies from Asia. For those of you who haven't tried those, expect a bright, fruity flavor with notes of rose, white grape, and a bouquet of floral high notes. It yields a beautiful, soft yellow liquor with a smooth, buttery mouthfeel.
Red Guanyin (觀音紅, Guānyīn Hóng, "Guanyin Red") - There has been a growing trend in recent years in China towards making red teas from cultivars traditionally used for other varietals. The oxidation process often brings out exciting and previously unexpressed flavors and fragrances in classic teas. Red Guanyin is an excellent example of this. Made from an early spring harvest of the Tie Guan Yin varietal, famous for producing some of the most fragrant oolong teas in the world, this baked, fully-oxidized Fujianese red tea is one of our sweetest and most chocolatey. The Tieguanyin cultivar is remarkable for being exceptionally fragrant in any oxidation state - lightly oxidized, as in our Jade Tieguanyin, it has abundant floral notes. Heavily oxidized and charcoal roasted, as in our Charcoal Roasted Tieguanyin and our Dragon Head Phoenix Tail Tieguanyin, it demonstrates a sweet, brown sugar-coffee-caramel depth. In its fully-oxidized form, it has notes of milk chocolate, sweet potato pie, and cotton candy. The liquor is a pleasant luminous red and the Qi is warming, mellow, and friendly.
Young first flush leaves are picked and quickly steamed, dried rolled and then blended to produce our Sencha, It is the green tea most commonly drunk in Japanese households. Left to grow in the sunshine increasing the Vitamin C and catechin content in the leaf. This high-grade green tea is slightly vegetal and a little earthy. Mild and rich with a golden-green colour. Great as a cold brew too!