South Fujian Oolongs
The mountainous terrain, warm and mild climate, fertile soil and high humidity create ideal conditions for growing tea in Fujian province. The tea culture came to these plentiful lands more than a thousand years ago and was formed in the North and in the South of the province in different ways, so Fujian oolongs are usually divided by geography - North Fujian and South Fujian. But this division does not end there: in the south of Fujian, there are three districts, each of which has its own distinctive tea traditions.
Anxi County is acclaimed for its “Tie Guanyin” tea (“Iron Bodhisattva”), perhaps the most famous Chinese oolong with a rich history of over 200 years. The oldest tea factories are located in the village of Xiping. It was there that, according to legend, a local tea farmer discovered an amazing tea shrub in the mountains from a prophetic dream, which divine Guanyin had pointed out to him. Today, new gardens and plantations are also situated in the Gandezhen and Xianghua areas.
The warm climate contributes to harvesting tea four times a year. Spring tea (April 20 - May 7) makes up 45-50% of the annual production, has a bright aroma, but is inferior to the autumn one in taste. Early summer tea (June 21 - July 7), 25-30% of the total annual volume, and late summer tea (August 8 - August 24), 15-20% of the annual volume - are not of great interest. Autumn tea (September 23 - October 9) makes up 10-15% of the total production.
The technological cycle of the production of Anxi oolongs includes the stages of weidiao (drying), zo qing (shaking), shaqing (high-temperature processing), rounian (twisting), hongbei (heating) and ganzao (drying). Such technological nuances as the power of fire, the duration of a particular stage and other subtleties affect the taste and aroma of the finished tea.
The following varieties of Tie Guanyin tea are known: qingxianq (fresh aroma), huaxiang (floral aroma), nongxiang (strong aroma) and chenxiang (aged aroma). “Strong aroma” in the slang of tea master technologists is called “three parts of red into seven parts of green” (dark base, green middle, red edge along edges; large heavy knot; visible red spots; white bloom on the surface of the leaf). “Fresh aroma” is “one part of red to nine parts of green” (emerald green and gloss, a small knot, a clean and fresh aroma, a light green leaf base, a little red edge or red spots).
When brewing, oolong ”Tie Guanyin” gives a rich overtone aroma and taste of huigan, “returning sweetness” with deep huiun, “echo in the throat”. In addition to the Tie Guanyin other varieties are also made in Anxi County: Ben Shan (Oolong from Benshan Mountain), Mao Xie (Hairy Crab) and Huang Jin Gui (Golden Osmanthus), Jin Guanyin (Golden Guanyin), Fo Shou (Buddha’s palm) and others.
More about the oolongs from Anxi in our video: Tie Guan Yin, Winter in Anxi.
Pinghe County occupies 328 square kilometers in the southwest of Zhangzhou County, in a zone of subtropical monsoon climate. One-third of the total area is alpine (maximum height is 1,544 m) and the remaining two-thirds are occupied by agriculture, in which not the last role is assigned to tea production. The hallmark of the region is Oolong Bai Ya Qilan (Wonderful orchid with a white bud). Besides this authentic tea, the tea growers cultivate popular varieties from the neighboring Anxi County: Te Guanyin, Jin Guanyin, Huang Dan, and others. However, the technology of tea processing here has its own features, thanks to which the oolongs from Pinghe have a distinctive flavor.
Zhaoan County is located on the southern border of Fujian Province. The mountainous terrain, mild climate, and fertile soils are ideal for growing tea. The most famous local tea is Oolong Ba Xiang (Eight Immortals), bred in the second half of the twentieth century at the foot of the mountain of the same name. A special feature of the variety is its high selenium content, therefore it is widely spread not only in its homeland but also in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hunan, and Sichuan. Tea "Ba Xian" compensates for the deficiency of selenium in the diet of many Chinese provinces. The proximity of the Fenghuangshan tea district, with which the county has an extended common border, largely contributed to the natural spread of the Dancongs (famous Chaozhou terroir variety), which local farmers cultivate and process using the same technology as the masters in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province.
Watch the video: Rare teas. Oolong from Zhaoan. Deaf villages of Fujian province