I always enjoy the extra samples that the Lin Family from Xin Yuan Tea Garden include with my seasonal orders of their phenomenal Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea. This season they included their Rou Gui Wulong Tea, as well as some silver tips, 13 year aged Ti Kuan Yin (amazing), and Jin Jun Mei Black Tea. For a family owned farm that consists of under five acres (about 2 hectares) of land, the Lin family produces some truly world class teas.
Today I decided to focus on the Rou Gui Wulong Tea. I have had this tea before, but did not have the environment to properly analyze it, and thus did not publish a sub-par review of it. Rou Gui Wulong, when authentic, is produced from a tea bush cultivar of the same name, Rou Gui. The Rou Gui cultivar is known for producing aromas and tastes of cinnamon, or cassia bark. Due to the higher oxidation percentage and roasting technique, Rou Gui Wulong can appear similar to a Da Hong Pao Wulong.
The sample packet has been opened, and the reputation of the aroma is proving to be accurate. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color. Leaves range from medium to large fragments, with a considerable level of crumbs. The leaves are twisted and curled. The leaves are very dry, slightly rigid, and crumble without much effort. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves have an aroma of dry wood, cassia bark (or cinnamon), and molasses.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with dark brownish-red color, clear and transparent, with some coarse particles. The aroma has scents of cinnamon (cassia), tree bark, and a light sweetness (molasses). The body is medium, with a very smooth, silky texture. The taste has notes of cinnamon (cassia), tree bark, light molasses, and a light floral undertone. The aftertaste is sweet, and slowly converts into a floral essence on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a considerably lighter golden-orange color. The aroma has lightened, but retains the general scents of cinnamon (cassia), tree mark, and light molasses. The body has lightened, and the texture remains smooth, but thinner. The taste has lightened, but has a very nice balance of flavor, with a light mineral note being observed with the other notes of cinnamon (cassia), tree bark, very light molasses, and light floral. The aftertaste is not as sweet, with more of tree bark character, but the floral essence eventually kicks in.
The third infusion produced a liquor with again a light shade of golden-orange color than the second infusion. The aroma has lightened slightly, and retains the same general scents. The body and texture are similar to the second infusion. The taste has lightened some, and retains a nice balance of flavors, with the mineral note gaining some prominence. Despite lighter characteristics, the third infusion has plenty of aroma and taste, and I would expect it to provide at least two to three additional infusions of acceptable quality.
The infused leaves have a very dark greenish brown to black color. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with no stems in the mix. A few of the leaves are whole. The leaves have a fibrous, delicately rigid feel. The aroma has scents of wet tree bark, light cinnamon, and a very light floral hint.
The Rou Gui Wulong Tea is a unique style of wulong that certainly lives up to the reputation of having cinnamon-like aroma and taste descriptions. I found the second infusion to be my preference of the three, simply because the taste had balanced out considerably from the first infusion, and the mineral note that appeared gave the second infusion a very clean, refreshing character. Despite the similar appearance of the Rou Gui to a Da Hong Pao, the aromas and tastes are significantly different between the two wulong styles.
As always, the Xin Yuan Tea Garden has provided an interesting product that is unlike any other tea that I have had previously. You may learn more about the Xin Yuan Tea Garden at The Tea Journeyman Shop by Clicking Here. You may also view and purchase the fresh Spring 2014 Top Grade Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden by Clicking Here. Cheers!