Shui Jin Gui "Golden Water Turtle" Wu Yi Rock Oolong Tea
Shui Jin Gui (lit Golden Water Turtle) is one of the four famous varietals grown in the Wu Yi mountain area. Shui Jin Gui has been grown since the Ming Dynasty, if not earlier. It's a hardy bush but with only moderate-low output. Spring is the best, Autumn tea depending on the weather can be quite decent as well.
Every year in early or mid-May the fresh spring leaves are plucked. The pluck is typically 2 leaf to 1 bud or 3 leaf to 1 bud. The tea is then withered in the sun for an hour or so, then rolled to break up the leaf's structure, releasing enzymes. Then fermentation process (also called sweating) is undertaken. The rolled tea is put into baskets and wet cloth is placed on top to boost and maintain the humidity level. The tea sweats for 5 or 6 hours before roasting. The roasting process is done with fire at a temperature of about 70C. The roasting process halts oxidation process and "fixes" the tea into a more stable state. This roasting process is completed within 4 to 6 hours and then the tea is allowed to cool a bit before being roasted a second time with a lower temperature and shorter time interval. When the tea is done it should have a water content of about 7.5-8%.
The taste of Shui Jin Gui is complex, sweet potato, caramel, grass and spice all mixed into one delicious feeling! Difficult to describe... has to be experience to be fully appreciated!