I drink tea from all over the world but one of the places that I find myself returning to again and again is Fujian Province. Located on the southeast coast of China, this mountainous region has a subtropical climate that is ideal for growing tea. It is considered to be the birthplace of black tea but is also well known for producing white tea as well as oolong. Although you can occasionally find a green tea that was grown there, it isn’t very well known for them. These are just a few of my favorite Fujianese teas.
Silver Needle, also known as Bai Hao Yin Zhen, is a white tea that is comprised entirely of unopened buds from the Da Bai variety. Each leaf is covered in downy hairs called trichomes. Fuding is the main production area but it can also be found in Zhenghe and Jianyang. The taste is very delicate with floral, fruity, and slightly vegetal notes. While often touted as low in caffeine but high in antioxidants, Silver Needle can actually be fairly high in the stimulant. It is also high in L-Theanine, an amino acid that relaxes the central nervous system so many do not feel the full effects of the caffeine when drinking it.
Tea pictured: Arbor Teas Organic Silver Needle White Tea
Tie Guan Yin
Tie Guan Yin, also known as Iron Goddess of Mercy, is one of China’s best-known oolong teas. If a friend ever brought you back a packet of tea from a trip to China, chances are this was it. It is a rolled oolong (though it wasn’t always rolled this way!) that is known for its orchid-like aromas. The dry leaf is usually lighter or darker green depending on the oxidation and roast level. Lighter versions will be verdantly floral while darker versions (my personal preference) are comfortingly toasty with a slightly nutty lean. The leaves will expand quite as they unfurl so you’ll want to be careful in order to not use too much tea for your brewing vessel.
Tea pictured: Teance Tieguanyin Dark Stone Fruit
Rou Gui, also known as cassia (cinnamon), is an oolong from the Wuyi Mountains. Compared to the Tie Guan Yin we just talked about, you would almost think that it was a black tea. The darker color comes from both a higher oxidation level and a multi-step charcoal roasting process. Wuyi oolongs are known for their yan yun, or rock rhyme. The tea takes on a flinty, mineral taste because of the rocky soil where it is grown. Rou Gui is one of my favorite Wuyi oolongs. Perhaps the name tricks us into tasting a hint of spice but they are also surprisingly fruity.
Tea pictured: Sonwu Tea Rou Gui, Spring 2016, Tea Master Zhou, Wuyi Mountain Inner Circle
Bai Lin Congfu
When we think of black tea we often think of Assam or Darjeeling but China also has many famous black teas. Bai Lin Congfu is a high-grade black tea known for its slightly curled leaves that are covered in golden hairs. It is often sold under the name Golden Monkey because of their resemblance to monkey claws. The taste is wonderfully sweet and smooth with notes of dark chocolate and rose. The taste is complex so this one black tea that you definitely shouldn’t add milk and sugar to.
Tea pictured: Joseph Wesley Black Tea No.6 – Bai Lin Congfu
What is your favorite tea from Fujian Province? Have you ever tried any of these? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!