Guilty to have the licence for being spectacular!Review by Philipp Aba - zeroteazen.wordpress.com
I really wanted to put the Rou Gui to the test and for such an undertaking it was necessary to find the real deal to get the best of the best. But what is the best exactly? As many of you know there is just one way to get as close as you can get to the holy grail – researching, gut instinct, a matter of time and a „trial and error“ procedure. Another good aspect is a tea vendor you can trust and in such cases Tea Urchin proofed to be the perfect spot for such royal wishes. Eugene and Belle always try their best to find the best and until now I can just highly recommend the fact that they succeeded in every aspect of it. They found a way and sources to get the stuff and notes in them which old books praised about but seemed to be lost in our modern days. To name another King of the rocky mountains was their spectacular Da Hong Pao Reserve from the first review from their assortment I created.
To face some basic facts about this tea the crucial one is his terrain – the Reserve. Because it is really hard to get tea from the highly prized Hui Yuan Keng gardens because they are stated to be the best in Wuyi region. This Rou Gui was completely handmade and 3 times roasted over around 20 hours each. So quality definitely comes with a certain prize. Not every tea seems to be worth this money but I can tell you a little secret „This one here is worth every cent of it“. But lets face the facts.
Even in his dry stage this tea exhaled such a distinctive intense flavor spreading out of those wonderful handmade crispy dark leaves. If it comes to a visual mood those in percentage middle sized leaves with some bigger parts and also some dusty smalls underneath reminds me a lot of Autumn again. Here you can catch up some very nice reddish brown highlights here and there but mainly a coloration between black and some kind of dark grey-ish cobalt blue. After the dried crispness got in touch with the heat of the first or some warm baths those Autumn dark colored style switched over into an overall olive intense green one. Now you can definitely notice their true nature which is mostly a mixture of middle sized leaves with cut off ends on both sides most likely happened during the harvest.
But lets leave this field behind and devote our full attention on one of the first glory steps to tea heaven. Like I mentioned before the first impression you will get from those crispy leafage is a massively unforgettable intense one. In this first magical moment you will be able to catch such a lovely dark sweet and in the same blink of an eye even fruity body note which seems to be like the ones mentioned in many books. The dark part beside his visual one is devoted to a very fine premium dark chocolate but filled with such a delicate yogurt strawberry-cream one – thick and dense. But in this very moment the bridge is already build and leads you to the other side covered with raisins and another huge part in this exceptional composed sonata is the one and only Turkish delight (also called white nougat). And where such nuances set up their camp something nutty isn't far – in this very case we are talking about pine nuts and almond. If it didn't happen until now maybe in this moment it is time that the mouth is watering massively because all those fine delicate aspects and a subtle layer of astringency are the cause of it and this is a damn good thing.
Sometimes it is good to be guilty and those nuances are as guilty as they could be. Guilty to have the licence for being spectacular. Everything mentioned before now gaining massively inside their character at least the threefold of their former condition. Before the mouth was slightly watering but now the Niagara Falls found their home where your mouth should have been before. Because the astringency is gently gaining in his development also the same happened to a former just very slightly hint of something floral. Now this flowery bouquet is filled with a nice arrangement of lilies and magnolia followed by an always companion the dark chocolate sweetness and a subtle placed smoky flavor. I never ever got into the position to scent such a sweet Rou Gui before but this one made it already clear that his character is one of a kind. And this sweetness is one of the main attraction thick and dense covered with such sweet aspects – layers after thick and creamy layer starting with Nutella (hazelnut cream). One aspect but not even as close to the end because after this one a lot more is going to follow like a nice fusion of hibiscus and apricot jam plus a elegant touch of blackberries. And even this wasn’t the end of the line if it comes to berries there is a lot more to tell. Because in this moment the fact of strawberry comes back but now not between thick layers of dark chocolate but like in the sense of fruit-gums.
As you can see there was a lot the be told just about the fact of scenting this very exceptional Rou Gui but now it is time to taste the fellow and every aspect of his nature. Now it is crystal clear that this fine Oolong was roasted a couple of times because you can definitely taste it now but if you consider that it was roasted three times this fellow is made by hands of wisdom. Because you might think that his character should be very smokey but it isn’t – strange but true. In fact this aspect just underscores all the others in such a perfect balanced way that it is really a pleasure to be a part of this session. His body reveals such an intense arise of sweetness, fruity aspects and a big flowery bouquet in fact a moment to remember. „Oh sweetness there seems to be no end“ because there is a party going on and this party is tasty. Starting with fresh and steaming vanilla crescents followed by a subtle hint of lemon and then again turned into a warm and steaming sweet egg-bun plus a nice touch of a mixture between fresh ground coffee and soy milk at the end of it.
Before it happened just in a slightly way then a bit more but now it is definitely time for some flowery action on your palatal. Because this is an unforgettable quadripartite-bouquet starting with chamomile blossom followed by daisies and lilies plus a fine finish of dandelion. Inside this perfectly balanced composition there is always a fine layer of dark chocolate here and there you might going to notice like a companion you can always count on. You can discover this creation of art until his deepest bits and pieces and there is a lot to find. Because when it comes to a natural aspect you can definitely count on this one. In his case you can definitely experience the past of his natural environment – the stones, the ground, the air, all the other plants around him, herbs and fresh water – everything is there in this very cup of mine or yours. The herbal aspect is as always slightly cooling by the way. The echo or better to say the aftertaste is a very persistent mixture one between dark chocolate, pine nuts and almond.
Intensity your name shall be Rou Gui Reserve because the second part of this story is definitely praised by is character and persistent inside his unfolding. Everything stays nearly where it strongly was before just the floral aspect is taking a small step backwards but on the other hand the stony mineral and astringency flairs are getting more attention as before. Balance is a big topic inside this and the following steepings because like Yin and Yang there is always a perfect balance between every step you might experience. Beside this former mentioned gaining aspect there is also a nice new one showing up on the surface of perfection. This one is a nice old woody one like old barrels soaked up with Chinese plum wine. The echo is as always very persistent and nutty dark chocolaty as before.
When it comes to the third part of this story and in this case here on ZeroZen the last one there is a slightly change going on. What’s changing? First the confectionery aspects receiving more attention again and the part of the dark chocolate friend is switching into a white chocolate one. But this happens more in a creamy type of way like white chocolate cream on top of a cup cake. With later infusions more and more you might notice a fine milky layer inside the tasting notes.
So lets face the outcome. Like I mentioned there were three steepings mentioned as always but you can steep this fellow at least until 10 times. Like very good and aged wine has its prize some teas also shares this fact. But I experienced both because not always is expensive equally good. But in this very case every cent you might pay for it is more than well invested on – thanks to the outstanding work of Tea Urchin. This was so far the BEST Rou Gui I ever got in touch with and I am simply amazed. Sadly this was my last bit of it but I can’t wait to order more of it. This Oolong is a treasure of its own and a tasteful luxuriancy you definitely shouldn't miss. This isn't a daily drinking tea because you should keep it until a special occasion occurs or a special person you want to share an unforgettable moment with. I am sure it isn't hard to guess that this jewel reached as much gold as you can reach on ZeroZen. So I wish you a beautiful day and a great tea that suits your mood in every moment of your life.“ (Posted on 3/16/15)
A special tea roasted and hand-forged like a fine bladeReview by Freddy
I love Yancha but it is not my daily tea because I usually drink Pu Erh tea. This means I'm very picky on Yancha because it is a tea for special moments. So I normally choose the highest value Yancha because I think "If you only drink Yancha for special moments, dont be cheap on this matter" but at the same time, I know there are some high quality Yanchas at a fraction of this price doing just as well in term of fragrance and even with same joy when drinking it. So it surely is not always a matter of the price but sometimes fulfilling your dream can be more valuable than coin. So I avoid looking too deep into my "bag of coins", else I may not choose the correct tea for me, not even once a year.
Another difficult issue is the authenticity because higher priced, rare goods attract higher risk of counterfeit. It works same in every single country on the world but China is surely on the lead when it comes to such matters. So, money itself wont grant genuine stuff, there is as well serious connections required. Even when buying a simple high grade single estate Darjeeling the risk of counterfeit is high and this is still a mass produced tea with way bigger scale than any of the truly high grade Yanchas. The secret is to avoid intermediade trade as much as possible, especially in China. Under optimal circumstance i would say a trade is between farmer and vendor and is verified personally in the best way possible. Just as good or even better is a trade between a well known master and a vendor, because the master got serious connections and high experience in order to judge a genuine tea. All those important factors is granted in terms of Tea Urchin, so I feel very secure when it comes to the authenticity of the expensive tea. Trust is critical. There is just a few shops with the required amount of trust in order to make such trades valid to me, a thing that truly is giving honor to any vendor able to achieve it.
Now regarding the teas inner capabilities: The leaves are kinda encrusted with some gray layers, the extremely long duration of the roasting is clearly visible, it is a very high quality roasting that is probably unchallenged in the world of teas, this is clear to me without doubt. It is astounding how smooth the tea is behaving in my cup taking the extreme level of roasting into account, it is probably roasted even more than "heavy roasted tea" it is roasted to some grade rarely ever seen. The tea as a result is clearly a strong Yang based tea, a spec that is nowadays becoming rare because of many reasons Yin based teas are becoming very popular. Some of the heavy roasted teas i was tasting in the past was causing a rasping feeling in my throat and i stopped enjoying them. Those rather low quality teas are good examples of what can happen when the roasting is not master grade and the leaves of too low quality.
This tea, is very smooth on the throat and on the palate, it reveals a heavy mineral taste but the combination with the water is as smooth as the air I am breathing. Without putting my mind to it i would barely notice it because it is simply part of the tea, part of the water and finally part of me... every single fraction of the fragrance and texture is fully integrated. So the tea is incredibly complex but is like a hard forged "super katana", seamless in every single aspect, everthing has been merged by the exceptional roasting into a single seamless body and even if there would be different hardness or different layers, it is hard to separate those hardness or layers from each others, its is simply perfectly merged. The tea has a very calming and wonderful effect on my body and my sensitive throat is saying "give me more of it"... all Yancha I've had so far from Tea Urchin is in my favor. The fragrance is bready, mineralic, sweet, smooth, a bit fruity and a bit flowery... simply too complex, overwhelms my senses. This tea comes at a price but i think it is a good option for those who truly enjoy special refined moments and although there is many Yanchas from Tea Urchin at almost the same level of fragrance, this tea is clearly adding some improved maturity due to its enhanced roasting and superior origin which delivers some additional layers. Finally, thanks to Eugene + Belle for sourcing such great teas and I am certain this is the right direction. (Posted on 2/19/15)