The highest temperature in Washington DC today is 94F/34C. Whether we like it or not, this is only the beginning of the hottest time of the year. If you’re reading this in Europe, you’re definitely feeling the brutality of this year’s heat wave (please stay safe and hydrated).
In our tea mountains, it’s also getting hot during the day. But the weather is not the hottest thing going on in the mountains. If you visit any tea makers around this time, the biggest thing is the tea assessment.
Wuyi teas are famous for being fashionably late to the market. Lightly roasted Wuyi oolong (Yancha) and Tongmu black tea just appeared on the market around this time. They’re packaged in smaller bags and sent to clients and industry peers for evaluation.
Lightly roasted Wuyi oolong teas (also called Yancha/岩茶), in our opinion, are the best for the season. The tastes are not as thick and strong as their more heavily roasted siblings, but their aromas are more ambrosial and comforting.
Iconic lightly roasted Wuyi oolong teas, such as Huang Guan Yin and Golden Peony, often capture tea lovers heart with their floral aromas. The exquisite floral aromas are the result of not only features of tea cultivars, but also the tea-making techniques.
The strength of the roast is related to the number of rounds of roasting. Stronger the roast, more rounds of roasting. A heavy roast generally takes 3 rounds of roasting (10-12 hours per roast). Light roast, however, can take just one round of roasting. This is why lightly roasted Wuyi oolong can appear on market in early summer while heavily roasted ones have to wait till mid/late summer.
Interestingly, early summer is normally considered as “late” for a black tea. Most black tea products in other tea-producing areas go on the market shortly after the harvest (e.g in late March). Traditional Tongmu black tea, however, goes on the market in mid/late June.
Situated within the UNESCO world heritage site, village of Tongmu’s elevation is 1000m/3280ft higher than most of the Wuyi mountains. Higher elevation leads to lower average temperature, and lower temperature leads to a late maturity. In fact, Tongmu black tea’s harvest is commonly 1 month late compared to other black tea products.
Besides the late harvest, Tongmu black tea’s special tea-making further delays its “ market date”. Tongmu black tea’s tea-making uses traditional pinewood as a heat source in various stages of the tea-making. Unavoidably, tea leaves acquire the smell of pinewood smoke in the process. Due to this particular condition, Tongmu black tea needs some “cool-down” time to allow the “pinewood smell” fully retreat.
Fortunately, Tongmu black tea’s late harvest and the “cool-down” time make it a great tea on the market in early summer.
Lightly roasted Wuyi oolong teas and Tongmu black teas are some of the best Wuyi mountains have to offer. If you’re interested in experiencing them, please do check out our online store. We just received this year’s Tongmu black tea, and our lightly roasted Wuyi oolong teas are on their way!
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