Today’s review will focus on the Gui Fei Wulong from Rainbow Trading Company. Many thanks to Rainbow Trading for providing these excellent quality high mountain wulongs. At this time, I do not believe Rainbow Trading Company has a website. Reaching out to the Western hemisphere is a recent development for them, and getting their teas out for review is a good way to gauge how the U.S. and other countries will accept their products.
This Gui Fei wulong uses leaves from the Chin Shin cultivar. The Chin Shin bushes are grown in the LiShan, Tai Zhong City area of Taiwan, at an altitude between 6,000 and 6,600 feet (2,000 to 2,200 meters). Much like the better known Oriental Beauty wulongs from Taiwan, the Gui Fei is plucked after those beautiful little bugs commonly referred to as leaf hoppers begin to eat the tea bush leaves. The saliva from the leaf hoppers chemically reacts with the secondary metabolites created by the tea bushes to repel insects and heal the wound, creating an amazingly sweet and all natural honey flavor in the liquor. How many natural products have as interesting of a chemistry as the tea leaf? Not that I am an expert on botany, agriculture, or chemistry, but none that I can think of.
The sample packet is opened, and all I can smell is clove honey and pears. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves range in color from dull forest green to very dark green, almost black. The leaves are in semi-ball shape.The size of the semi-balls are between a sweet pea and a lima bean. There are a few visible stems, but not as many as I typically see in Taiwan wulongs. I expect the vast majority of these leaves to be whole, some having the stem attached. The aroma is very sweet, having strong scents of bee honey and ripe tree fruit, perhaps pear or plum.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds with the first infusion, one minute with the second, and one minute fifteen seconds with the third.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow infusion, clear and transparent. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of clove honey and ripe tree fruit (pear). The body is medium, with a creamy, silky, comforting feel. The taste is incredible, lacking any astringency, and has strong notes of clove honey and fresh pears. The aftertaste maintains some of the honey taste, but eventually leads to a phenomenal floral essence that is hard to find outside of Taiwan wulongs. The liquor seems to coat the throat as it is swallowed.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a significantly darker shade of golden-yellow color. The aroma remains very sweet, strengthening in the honey and pear scents. The body is slightly heavier, and remains creamy and silky in texture. The taste is also slightly stronger, with amazing notes of clove honey and fresh pears. A slight earthy mineral (wet stone) taste has appeared, and I expect this taste to become more potent as infusions continue. The wet stone taste is serving as an excellent compliment to the sweet and fruity tastes. The aftertaste remains sweet (honey), becoming a persistent floral essence. Excellent second infusion, and expecting to be very pleased with the third.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a similar shade of golden-yellow color as the second infusion, perhaps a touch brighter. The aroma has barely lightened, but is still quite fragrant and sweet. The body remains medium, and the texture is less creamy, but still smooth and comforting. The taste, as expected, has balanced nicely in the flavors of honey, pears, and wet stones. The aftertaste maintains a very high quality of taste and essence.
The leaves, at this point, still have much flavor in them. In fact, it takes quite an effort to unroll them. They have a thin, dried leather feel. I will continue infusing these leaves until they can be better shown in the photo.
Four, five, six infusions, and finally the leaves are ready to have their photo taken.
The infused leaves range in color from fresh forest green with reddish edges to dark purple brown. Many leaves display the holes and gaps consistent with insect bites. All leaves are whole and unbroken. I seriously did not find a single leaf that had less than 95% fully intact. Some leaves were attached to stems. Those stems had anywhere from three to five leaves with buds attached. Some buds were quite long and developed. The leaves were long, but not very broad, further indicating the Chin Shin cultivar. The smell is sweet (honey and light fruit) and floral. I believe these leaves could give another two to three infusions before being exhausted, and I plan to test this theory after posting this review.
I understand the amount of work, effort, and care the farmers put in to producing this excellent tea. All of their efforts paid off in the form of the superior taste and aroma of the liquor and the high quality of the leaves. This tea has a calming, comforting effect that is truly unique. This tea has an awe-inspiring aroma and taste that lasts for at least five to six infusions. If you do not require such strong flavors to continue infusing leaves, then you will easily get ten worthy infusions. It’s teas like this that make me want to begin offering products through this website. Finally, the floral essence that this tea leaves on the breathe is exceptional. I have had many teas since reviewing my most recent Taiwan wulong, and none of those teas can produce the beautiful floral essence that high quality Taiwan wulongs provide.
Cheers to the farmers in Tai Zhong City! Cheers to Rainbow Trading Company! Cheers to Taiwan Wulongs! Cheers to Leaf Hoppers!