I like drinking Wuyi rock tea in a peaceful environment; I can feel and enjoy the flavor of rocks. Since my first visit to Wuyi Mountains during Labor Day holidays in May of 2009, I have explored nearly every corner there and admire the unique scenery. As a saying goes “A person in a favorable position gains special advantage.” In January 2009, I moved to Hangzhou, roughly 600km north of Wuyi at the beginning of the ancient Silk Road.
Actually I drank Wuyi rock tea for the first time neither in Hangzhou, nor in Wuyi, but during a business trip to Yiwu, Chinas commodity hub to the world, where I was invited by some local business men to a cup of some rock tea variety. At that time I was familiar to the taste of Chinese white and green tees, Pu-erh tea and light oxidized Oolongs like Tieguan Yin, but never saw such dark and slightly twisted leaves with a fragrance reminding to chocolate.
After several cups, a name card and light smile on my face I headed back to Hangzhou and several weeks later my journey with rock tea began, when my wife and me got of a good old “K” classified train, second slowest, but by best regional coverage rail network, at Wuyi Mountain station at half past 5 in the morning after a nearly 9 hours ride in an overcrowded hard seated wagon. A lady, the person behind the name card took us to her home, which is already inside the UNESCO world heritage park of Wuyi and where we traditionally spend several days a year. Relationship is valued not only abroad, but in China it is a door opener and during the last six years, we enjoyed Wuyi rock tea with the local tea culture scholars, tea growers, tea business leaders and tea friends and more importantly we developed friendship connected by admiration to the unique flavor of rock tea.
We learned that good tea matches the elegant tea set and brings the best to each other. This is valid for all teas, but especially for rock tea, where same tea from different cliffs, rocks and mountains, as well as different habits of tea producing masters and different tea utensils, water, its boiling temperature and drinking environment make the difference in sensation of spirit, flavor and fragrance. Emperor Qianlong during the Qing dynasty stated “There are various types of tributary tea from Jian Yang. After I tried to savor each carefully, I found the tea from Wuyi is the best whose flavor is fresh, smooth and with the spirit from the rock.”
The tribute tea was from some trees at the top of Jie Sun Peak, but where are the Wuyi Mountains at all?
Wuyi Mountain is the North Door of Fujian province in East China and its history is documented back to the Han Dynasty.
A poet described:
Let’s listen to some masters and listen to their inner feelings when visiting Wuyi to bring you the mountains scenery.
Wuyi Mountains are actually at the lower parts of Huangang Mountain, known as the roof of East China, altitude: 2158m and is located in a Natural Preservation Zone and home to over 3700 kinds of plants next to “the heaven of birds”, the world of insect” and “the kingdom of snake”. The nine twist river originates from Tongmu River, where famous black tea like Zhengshan Xiaozhong and more lately Jinjunmei were developed. Along the Nine-Twist River 36 mountains and 99 rocks provide an unique wonderful natural ecological environment for the Rock tea, which embed in the rocky valleys, rocky cracks, where there are layers of rocks and precipices, and in the crisscross network of secluded gullies. Sanyang Peak with 717m is the highest among formations named by its natural inspiration like Heavenly Tour Peak, Great King Peak, Sky’s Pillar Peak, Cloth-Changing Stage, Sounding Rock, Flame Peak, Immortal Trace Rock, Double Breast Peak and Tiger Roaring Peak with its “Child’s Babble Spring”.
As is said in the tale, in ancient times an immortal rode on the peak, roaring. In fact the howling sound comes from a rock hole. The mountain wind that goes through the mouth of the hole produces the sound like a tiger howling, which would convulse the mountains. There is also a place called “Child’s Babble Spring” on the Tiger Roaring Peak. It flows in and out of the rocky cracks and follows down the precipice, and the sound of water hitting the stones is like the voice from children, who just learn to speak, so it is called “Child’s Babble Spring”.
Wuyi Mountain area is genial in weather, warm in winter and cool in summer, belonging to the subtropical area, with an average temperature range of 18 to below 18 degree Celsius. The volume of rain is abundant, with an annual rainfall of 2000 millimeters and an annual degree of humidity of 80%. The vegetation is lush and all year round the cloud and mist is perennially widespread. The tee trees are able to bear shadows and like the sunshine in both morning and evening in the remote mountains, hindered by the rocks of facing steady sunlight.