If you have any interest in Chinese tea, very soon you will come across the word ‘Wuyi’ or ‘Mt Wuyi’ or ‘Wuyi tea’. Where is this Mt Wuyi?
Location of Mt Wuyi
Mt Wuyi or Wuyishan district is located in the north-western part of the province of Fujian, bordering on Jiangxi province. Such is the importance of Fujian to tea that it is commonly referred to as Northern & Southern Fujian teas, known as Min Bei and Min Nan respectively.
The convention for classifying Chinese tea by geographical locations actually has Fujian province falling into Jiangnan area (for northern Fujian including Mt Wuyi) and Huanan area (for southern Fujian).
If there is any one reason why foreigners would know Mt Wuyi, it is likely due to the celebrated Lapsang Souchang. Wuyi was formerly anglicized as Bohea but of late that term has lost popularity, but not the lapsang souchong.
These humble little tea was the first black tea (red tea if you follow Chinese classification) in China and by the same token, the world as well.
Legend has it that during the Qing dynasty, circa early 17th century, processing of tea leaves were delayed as armies frequently passed through the hills where the tea leaves were grown. To speed up the drying process, a merchant thought of burning pine tree branches to heat the tea leaves.
Subsequently, the tea had a smoky pine taste and richer aroma, adding to its popularity.
Not only was Mt Wuyi the origin of black tea, most likely it where oolong tea originated from as well. I blogged about it previously here: http://peonyts.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/all-about-oolong-part-i/
In fact, Mt Wuyi is home to some of the finest oolong teas in the world. Mt Wuyi has its four famous trees-Big Red Robe, Iron Arhat, White Rooster Crown and Golden Turtle. In fact, some writers consider Big Red Robe to be in a class of its own and added the oddly named ‘Demon Across the Sky’ as its replacement.
The famous tea types of Mt Wuyi do not end there. Among the popular (and less expensive) breeds is my favorite every day tea- Wuyi Rougui.
It has a strong, distinctive aroma that is invigorating and even uplifting. At a fraction of the cost of its more expensive cousins, I like to drink this every day, even when I don’t have guests.
There are literally dozens of different oolongs produced in Mt Wuyi, some of which are virtually unheard of, even in China. I recently stumbled upon a breed called Mei Lan Xiang (not Mi Lan Xiang from Phoenix Mountain) which was not described in my library. Even Google which was usually my best friend only managed one miserable relevant article which confirmed that this little known tea is indeed from the Wuyi area.
All in all, Mt Wuyi has so many types of tea and plays such a vital part in Chinese tea culture that it is virtually impossible for an aficionado not to have drank something from this area before.