The other day I planned to write about this but ended up writing why I like Wu Yu Tai. Now I am starting again.
Wu Yu Tai is the tea store my parents adore. It used to sell mainly green tea and jasmine green tea, with some red teas and several oolongs. After Tie Guan Yin and Yan Cha became popular in North China, Wu Yu Tai started to sell more oolong products. When I was younger, I had a lot of green tea from there. But I didn't pay much attention to their oolongs.
Once (2007, I think) I got this Honey Aroma Tie Guan Yin Grade 2 rather randomly when buying other teas in their store. I tasted it once and thought the flavor was a little too dark and heavy (probably the vacuum pack held the "fire taste" of the tea for longer time). Then the tea was left in my cabinet for over a year. When I tried this tea again, I suddenly fell in love with it. The leaves don't seem to be from very high elevation. The spent leaves are not as thick, and don't look as handsome as some higher grade tea leaves. But still they are nice leaves. The flavor is very warm with an aroma that I would indeed compare to honey. Its flavor seems darker than its liquor color. I always think the color of the little vacuum wrap perfectly reflects the flavor of this tea.
Later on, after I started getting a series of traditional style Tie Guan Yin from a favorite supplier of mine, I've noticed that some roasted Tie Guan Yin seem to have greatly improved flavor after resting for months. I didn't figure out why, and to me it's always a guess that which Tie Guan Yin would turn better this way.
In recent years I've found my so far favorite series of charcoal roasted Tie Guan Yin and think they are averagely better than the Wu Yu Tai Grade 2. But still I think this Grade 2 tea has some unique characters. Since I liked this Grade 2 tea, I had been wondering what Grade 1 would be like. In the past 2 years, I passed by Wu Yu Tai for several times, but didn't get the Grade 1 tea either due to other distractions or the store I visited ran out of it. But eventually I got a can of it this past summer.
This one is actually significantly different from the Grade 2. It has very prominent aromatic fruity flavor which in the Chinese tea jargon is described as "honey peach aroma". The flavor reminds me of an old style Tie Guan Yin from the year of 2001, just stronger. Still the leaves are not of the highest grade of Tie Guan Yin, but they are definitely from high elevation and they look very much alive even after 10 infusions.
What touches me the most about this tea is, although this is the first time I've got it, I know it has been around in the past decade. Wu Yu Tai sells a lot of modern green style Tie Guan Yin nowadays, but it never gave up this traditional style product. This tea was there before Tie Guan Yin ever got popular in North China, and it has been there throughout all the time when most tea drinkers adore modern green style Tie Guan Yin. That's when we use "classic" and "timeless" to describe a traditional business.
The tea is sold in Wu Yu Tai for 120rmb ($18) per 100g. About this tea and a few other teas from large Chinese sellers, some people asked me if I could sell them here. I don't have the plan to sell them, because their wholesale scale in China is at the level of xx kg. It's way above me. Besides, working with brand name products is not my major goal. But I do help people buy directly from China at Chinese local prices (shipping is still steep so it only works well when price and shipping balance out). I believe most great Chinese teas have never been introduced to the western world yet (while major exporters and importers are busy dealing with cheap tea of roughly $1 per pound), and there should be more channels. With today's communication and financial technologies, there surely can be and should be more ways for people to get their tea.
4 months ago