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Master Xu’s Set of Five Rou Gui 2016



Spread over just 70 square kilometres of land, the 36 peaks, and 99 cliffs of the Zhengyan 正岩 (true cliff) area of Wuyi are one of the most interesting examples of terroir in the tea world. Although many teas can be designated 'Wuyi yancha' (the government officially defines the area for Wuyi tea production as over 2500 square kilometres), only the teas grown here and in the outer Banyan 岩  (half cliff) region are considered to have the true yanyun 岩韵 (rock rhyme) taste that is a signature for all great Wuyi oolongs. The unique characteristics of Wuyi oolongs are primarily down to the high mineral content (particularly of potassium and manganese) of the volcanic soil, as well as the high humidity and numerous peaks which cause many of the tea growing areas to be shrouded in mist and shade, leading to slow, concentrated growth. 

The singular geography of the Zhengyan area means that even within this small space, the quality of tea can change dramatically depending on the exact cliff or valley and its growing conditions. Many families in Wuyi, including Master Xu's, have small pockets of land in various areas within the park rather than one large patch of land. Therefore, last year we asked Master Xu to send us five teas from five famous areas within the park where he grows tea to compare them to each other. To keep the cultivar constant he chose Rou Gui 肉桂 (cassia/cinnamon) which is now, along with Shui Xian, the most common Wuyi cultivar and famed for its fruity, aromatic properties.

The teas Master Xu has chosen are from the following areas: Dao Shui Keng, Niu Lan Keng, Jiu Long Ke, Ma Tou Yan & Tian Xin Yan. Although they are all Zhengyan Rou Gui, each one is distinctive and a reflection of its unique growing conditions, as well as the roasting that Master Xu has chosen to apply to bring out their best qualities. For lovers of yancha, or for those interested in how small changes in terroir can change tea, we hope that this boxset proves an interesting educational experience.

To read more about the history and geography of each cliff, please click below.


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