Master Xu’s Rou Gui (Tian Xin Yan) 肉桂 2018
A roasted yancha (rock tea) oolong from the inner Zhengyan area of the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian made by Master Xu, the maker and one of the guardians of the Da Hong Pao mother trees. This tea is processed from trees of the Rou Gui (Cassia) cultivar grown on Tian Xin Yan (Heaven Heart Rock).
Just east of Jiu Long Ke where the Da Hong Pao mother trees are housed, Tian Xin Yan is one of the major tea producing cliffs in Wuyi outside the San Keng Liang Jian inner area. Tian Xin Yan is intertwined with the history of Wuyi oolong and Da Hong Pao as it was supposedly monks from the temple on Tian Xin that made the tea that revived the ill civil servant in the famous Da Hong Pao origin story. Competitions are held at Tian Xin Yan every year for farmers to ‘battle’ their teas against each other, with the winner of the Rou Gui category taking the most prize money.
Master Xu processes the leaves for this Rou Gui entirely by hand – from the picking and sorting, through to the kill-green stage and rolling. The roasting is done carefully at a low temperature (around 75 degrees Celsius) over hours, and often re-roasted over the course of many months until he is satisfied.
We’ve started with two Rou Gui from different cliffs this year: the Tian Xin Yan is very true to the aromatic, fruity character of the cultivar, with a pronounced floral fragrance and a fruit juice sweetness that combines well with the caramelised flavour from the roast. For those who prefer their yancha on the lighter, aromatic side then this would be the tea we recommend.
Master Xu, Tian Xin Yan, Wuyishan, China
SIZE OF FARM
PLANTS AND PROCESSING
Camellia Sinensis Sinensis, Rou Gui cultivar. Medium charcoal roasting. Harvested early Summer 2018.
90-95°C, 6g per 150ml. 5+ infusions.
When we first met Master Xu, he tested us by making lots of different teas to see which ones we preferred. Luckily for us, his and our taste coincided and we have been working together for many years. Walking with him around the historic cliffs where he produces his sublime teas and where he supervised parts of the production of mother tree Da Hong Pao on 3 occasions is like being given a tour of Wembley stadium by David Beckham.
Eagle-eyed viewers may have also caught Master Xu and Lu from Postcard Teas showing Victoria Wood around Wuyi on the recent BBC documentary Nice Cup of Tea, which you can watch here!
Master Xu (1971- )
Master Xu is a graduate of tea studies at Fujian’s University Of Agriculture and Forestry In Fujian. He later worked for The Wuyi Institute of Tea where he specialized in researching and developing new varieties of Wuyi rock teas from historic trees as well as supervising the tea growing and processing in the Unesco protected World Heritage Wuyi Mountain area. He was responsible for taking care of the Da Hong Pao mother trees for over 15 years and he led the team that picked and processed the last ever production from the mother trees. Although he still works for The Wuyi Tea Institute, he also hand produces tea from four families land totaling just eight acres in the heart of the Unesco protected park.