Red Circle Tea

Oh God, Here we go again

Where’s the line between being obsessive compulsive and loving what I do just a little too much? Funny you should ask.   I was actually just faced with a personal litmus test and I completely failed. I actually made a promise to myself that I’m about to break and it involves this bus.

I’m getting on the dreaded night bus for the second and god willing the last time. I mean it. This bus is going to be the end of me if I don’t stop taking my own advice seriously.

Unfortunately, this overnight bus that leaves from Guangzhou to Anxi is the fastest, cheapest, most direct and efficient mode of transportation between where I am and where I want to be. And where I want to be involves Golden Heart Ti Kuan Yin. And fatty pork. I’ll explain the pork in a minute, first the tea.

The oolong harvest is beginning. And it starts with Ben Shan (mountain and varietal name) Ti Kuan Yin oolong.  Lightly roasted tea is referred to as Ting Heung and dark roast is Sook Heung. I’ve tasted a lot of Ben Shan oolong roasted Ting Heung style. It’s meant for export. It’s a varietal designed to bud early, and bring tea to market faster, for bigger profits. It’s also a fairly weak tea, in that it doesn’t have a lot of wei gam (throat feel) or a lot of depth, and can sometimes, when harvested later in the day, have a bitter or slightly sour lemon or sour milk taste to it. It’s “popular” but it’s also inferior. It has a tempting taste that for me just doesn’t follow through.

I prefer Sook Heung Golden Heart and Red Heart. It has a lovely top fragrance, with a lingering throat feel and depth to the tea taste that lets the roast fully come through. To me, it has such a complete spectrum of taste, from the high light soft and sweet notes, through the flavor and right down to the smoke of the lichee wood to roast the leaves.

That’s also another point in Mr Wong’s favor. He’s wicked smart about roasting his tea. He’s tried electric roasting, propane, and charcoal and wood, and he’s settled on wood because it compliments the flavor of tea like nothing else and he’s sticking with it.

So on the night bus we go, me and my two travel companions. All headed to Mr Wong to see Anxi Ti Kuan Yin. Fingers crossed.

  • Elizabeth says...

    Oh, Sina! I never knew that the journey to the source of the tea I love so well was so difficult. Thank you.

    Avi and I are reading these on a lazy Sunday right now. I can’t believe I forgot to read them as you posted.

    On Oct 13, 2013

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