Sounth Fujian Oolong tea is lightly fermented, mainly produced in south Fujian counties, such as Anxi, Yongchun, Nan’an, Pinghe, Hua’an, etc. Anxi Oolong is the best known.
Anxi has been a large tea-producing area since ancient times, especially well-known for asexual tea reproduction (reproduction through cutting, layering, etc.). Before the Ming Dynasty, China’s tea trees were grown from seeds. During Chongzhen’s reigon (Ming Dynasty), tea farmers in Anxi invented asexual reproduction (layering the whole plant to reproduce tea trees of the same breed), which was widely adopted later.
Smelling as fresh as green tea, Anxi tea endures repeated infusions, and is characterized by jasmine tea’s nature flowery fragrance and black tea’s strong and mellow taste, with a lingering aftertaste. To retain the flowery fragrance for a longer period, the tea leaves are deeply fermented but lightly baked. The tightly curled emerald-colored “grain-shaped” leaves are very different from Wuyi Yan Cha.
“Thriving on natural mountain air, absorbing the light of the sun and moon, cared for by the clouds, it is a panacea for all diseases.” Anxi tea has a variety of breeds, including the most popular “4 Elites”: Tie Kuan Yin, Huangjingui, Benshan and Maoxie, together with Meizhan, Qilan and Big Leaf Oolong, each unique on its own. Tie Kuan Yin is the most popular.
Tie Kuan Yin (Tieguanyin)
Made from the tender leaves of the Tieguanyin trees, it is the king among Anxi teas. The name tieguanyin refers to both the tree and the tea. Anxi tieguanyin is said to have been discovered in Xiping town, Anxi, during the Qing Dynasty.
Features of Tieguanyin
Shape: Curly, compact and heavy, shaped like a green dragonfly’s head, it is described as having “ Kuan Yin’s (goddess of mercy) beauty and iron’s weight.” It is characterized by bright green leaves with red spots covered by white fuzz.
Quality: The flavor is strong and enduring, with the fragrance of flowery and fruits. According to recent studies, Anxi Tieguanyin contains various aromas. The clear and golden tea liquid has a strong and mellow taste, with a sweet aftertaste and lingering fragrance. The brewed leaves are thick and as bright as silk. Tieguanyin’s unique fragrance fills the room as soon as you lift the cover of the teapot.
Huangjingui is made from the tender leaves of Huangdan tea trees. Therefore, crude tea leaves are called Huangdan in the production area. Huangjingui is among the best Anxi teas. It grows in Luoyan area of Anxi County. It is reproduced through asexual methods. Huangjingui derives its name from its golden (Huangjin) tea liquid and because of its taste of the osmanthus(gui).
Teatures of Huangjingui
The tea leaves are bright yellow, compact, soft and thin with a yellowish-green center and red edge. The tea liquid is mellow, with the fresh fragrance of the osmanthus.
Originally growing in Xiping Town of Anxi, Benshan is a “close relative” of tieguanyin, sharing its good quality. However, it is taller and easily adapts to environmental changes.
Features of Benshan
The yellowish-green leaves are strong and heavy, striped light green and edged red, similar to tieguanyin in quality but without its unique charm. The orange tea liquid has orchidlike aroma, mellow taste and light and sweet aftertaste. The brewed leaves are yellowish-green.
Originally growing at Daping County of Anxi, Maoxie adapts well to environmental changes. It is easy to cultivate. The yield is high.
Feature of Maoxie
The dark green dry tea leaves are compact, curly, spiral, with sharp ends. The tips of the tender tea leaves are covered with white hair, giving the tea its name Maoxie (hairy crab), The hair are easy to brush off. After infusion, the tea liquid turns bluish-yellow or golden, with a strong orchidlike fragrance, tasting light and mellow.
Besides Anxi Tea, there are many other precious south Fujian Oolong teas.
Yongchuan Buddha Hand (Yongchun Foshou)
Buddha had tea leaves look like the hand of Buddha. Among all the Buddha hand teas, the one produced in Yongchun is the best. It is made from the tender leaves of Buddha hand tea trees growing on the mountains at an altitude of 600-900 meters. Sukeng and Yudou in Yongchun are the 2 villages producing most of Yongchun Buddha Hand tea. Because of its low yield, Yongchun Buddha tea is very precious.
Buddha Hand tea trees can be divided into red sprouts and green sprouts base on the color of the spring sprouts. The red sprout is of superior quality. Buddha Hand tea leaves could be as large as human hands. Buddha Hand tea is very popular in Fujian, Guangdong, Hongkong, Macao, and Southeast Asia.
Features of Yongchuan Buddha Hand Tea
The dry oyster-looking leaves are compact, thick, heavy and curly. The tea leaves are of dark green color. The tea has a rich fragrance, tastes strong and mellow. It can endure many infusions. The tea liquid is clear orange in color. It is very good for easing thirst. During tea processing, the bergamot and citron fragrance fills the room.
Besides the above mentioned, other famous South Fujian Oolong teas include: Baimaohou, Almond tea, Fengyuanchun, Taoren, Zoumianji, Dahong, Houye, Xueli, etc.