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Spring 2019 Que She / Sparrow Tongue Medium Roast Wuyi Yancha Oolong (50g)

Spring 2019 Que She / Sparrow Tongue Medium Roast Wuyi Yancha Oolong (50g)

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September 17th, 2020

This is a lovely and less commonly encountered yancha varietal from a producer I'm very fond of. This tea is known as sparrow tongue or unknown fragrance, and is one of the original cuttings from the dahongpao mother bush, along with beidou and qidan. While I've had both beidou and qidan on several occasions, this was the first queshe I'd had and I was very excited to try it. The sparrow tongue name comes from the jagged, small leaves that this cultivar is known for.

No zhengshan or banyan claims on this tea: while this producer is based in Wuyishan, this tea was grown outside the protected area. 

The dry leaf smells fruity and minerally: I don't usually get up front 'rock' aroma from dry yancha, so this is an exceptional tea in that way. After the rinse, the air was filled with sweet aromatics, and I could even detect dark stone fruit and almond in the air. I also detected a note that was reminiscent of shuixian in the rinse, which I haven't encountered in my previous sessions with this tea.

The liquor is fruity up front, with some sarsaparilla in the first infusion, and pronounced mineral and even raisin in the aftertaste. After opening this can, the profile has drifted slightly closer towards a classic blended dahongpao or qidan profile, but this is still a distinct tea in its own right, and very interesting one at that.

This tea was roasted to a fairly high level for modern yancha, but the leaves look much darker than you'd think they would when you look at the liquor in the cup. There is almond in the aftertaste, as well as Ceylon hongcha and orange (in the first infusion). This tea is not astringent or bitter at all when brewed in a gaiwan. 

There is a clear mineral aftertaste here and a nice calming effect as I work through the session. I get an aromatic note that makes me think of fine leather, as well as sweet and berry-like aromatics. This is a very full tasting tea with lots of complexity. A few times through this test session, the mineral aftertaste took me back to my early years with yancha and reminded me of the Three Stamp Shuixian I offer here. Back then, I didn't recognize the mineral aftertaste for what it was, but now it's always clear to me. The depth and range of the mineral character in this tea is impressive!

For the third infusion, I reboiled and the flavor profile got darker and more intense, and the mineral appeared more dominant as the other aromatics started to recede. There was citrus in this infusion as well as the classic DHP fruitiness, and I noted that the mineral was filling my airways, as it had been all through the session.

This tea left me calm and energized, and had a long lasting aftertaste for an hour after the session. I got seven good infusions from this material: I may have been able to push for a light eighth infusion that would still have been interesting to drink.

This is a flawless yancha at a great price point: the mineral is perhaps slightly too dominant for my tastes, but that is my only criticism of this tea. This is an excellent example of a less-commonly encountered cultivar that I was very excited to try, and it can definitely hold its own against the better-known cultivars and even the dahongpao blends out there!

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