Ai Jiao is a small-sized cultivar from Wuyi. Never heard of it? This is quite possible, because besides the many well sounding cultivars like Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han or Shui Jin Gui, this gem is often forgotten. But the small Ai Jiao succeeds in Taiwan under his pseudonym and plays as Qing Xin with the big ones.
Rock tea or Yan Cha is grown on the steep cliffs of the Wuyi Mountains (Wuyi Shan). The difficult access to the tea cultivation area makes industrial production practically impossible and so this tea is still harvested by hand. Moreover, the producer is convinced that his production is purely organic. This is also supported by the government as Wuyi Shan is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and should remain so. The Wuyi mountain range stretches from 200 to 2058m and has a mild climate with an average temperature of 21°C.
Wuyi is one of the oldest and most important tea growing areas in China and is the cradle of Wulong and black tea. Tea production in Wuyi has a long tradition and the historical knowledge of the art of tea making is passed on from generation to generation.
This special tea variety is cultivated by the Chen family from Wuyi and thanks to centuries-old knowledge it’s processed into a first class oolong. So it is not surprising that only recently two teas of the Chen family won first place with Rou Gui and second place with Shui Xian at the Wuyi Yan Cha championship. The teas are still produced in the traditional way like in ancient times: The tea is dried and wilted in bamboo troughs and finally roasted over charcoal fire.
Due to the higher oxidation and a stronger roasting (compared to Taiwanese wulong) this Yan Cha has a long shelf life and is especially interesting for tea connoisseurs who like to store and age high quality teas according to vintage.
I have made fire!
Thanks to modern technology, making a fire in Wuyi is not quite as difficult as it was for Tom Hanks in Cast Away. But, it’s not quite banal either, and that’s one of the reasons why our producer has the roasting done externally. Sounds bad? It’s not! Because the roaster is a cousin and so the tea remains in family hands. And indeed, a specialised roaster can do a much better job than the best tea master ever could. Simply because he knows fire. If someone is not familiar with the charcoal fire they can ruin the whole batch or even all the teas in the roasting room!
Harvest: spring 2019
Taste: mineral and sweet with a flowery scent
Oxidation: approx. 50%
Origin: Lian Hua Feng, Wuyi, China
Preparation: In this blog post you will find a description of how to brew Oolong tea in an optimal way.
Tip: The aroma in the mouth unfolds best when the tea is not drunk too hot, but wait until it has cooled down a little in the cup.
This tea is suitable for infusion in a large cup or a larger pot as it does not become bitter and is very productive. It does not need to be poured off, but simply lets the tea leaves sink to the bottom.
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