My First Rou Gui Oolong

I have long been intrigued by Chinese oolong teas, but the most intriguing to me are Dan Cong and Wuyi Mountain oolongs. When I came across Rou Gui and saw that it was indeed an oolong from the Wuyi Mountains, I knew I needed to try it. I didn’t know much about this tea other than the origin and that it can taste like cinnamon. Sounds good, right? So let’s jump right in!

The tea was a sample pack from Harney and Sons. I used a gaiwan and used the whole pack which was right at 6 grams. I used 200F water and brewed it for 10 + 5 seconds.

The first thing that I tasted was indeed cinnamon on the first infusion. There was also some roasted wood notes and a fruit that I couldn’t quite make out, and it also had a note of rocky minerality. As a side note I have seen rock and mineral flavors described in teas before but I can’t say that I have ever been able to pick it up. Well tonight I picked it up and I picked it up hard, so that’s a new tasting moment for me.

The second and third infusions were very rocky with some cinnamon flavor in there. I would say it’s like finding a rock on the ground near a river, sprinkling some cinnamon on it and giving it a lick. It was…. interesting. I can’t say that I loved it, but it’s different. On the fourth infusion it was still very rocky, but the cinnamon came in at the end. Same for the fifth and sixth infusions. I want to say it’s like a cinnamon bread, like it wasn’t very sweet but I was expecting it to be sweet, like the cinnamon rolls that my wife makes from scratch. Maybe it’s just my personal experience but my brain ties cinnamon to sweet and the sweet wasn’t coming through. The rocky flavor hits you up front and the cinnamon flavor comes through on the back end. This is like the mullet of teas: rocky up front, cinnamon in the back.

On the seventh it was still rocky as all heck, but I got a faint note of leather. The eighth and ninth were a little interesting too. I started to get a taste of carbonation. Like a cinnamon flavored sparkling water. I have never had that taste in a tea before either.

I love how the dark green colors start to show on these roasted oolongs after you steep them a few times. They look black when dry but start to turn green.

The Chinese word for these teas grown in the Wuyi Mountains is Yancha, which means rock tea. The soil in the mountains is very rocky and that taste comes through in the teas. There is also something called Yan Yun or rock rhyme that is associated with yancha teas, but I don’t know enough about it to comment on it further.

Overall, It was an interesting experience and it stayed lively but I can’t say that I loved the rocky taste all that much. I have had the Big Red Robe from Harney which is also a Wuyi yancha and I liked that one a lot. So you can’t judge a tea by any characteristic really, you just need to try it.

The price on this is $14 for a 1.5 oz. tin (42 grams). 6 grams per session makes it 7 sessions per tin, which is $2 per session. If you go 9 infusions, that comes to $.22 per cup. That is not a bad price at all for a Wuyi Yancha. These teas are generally on the expensive side but that’s a good price for that tea.

It’s been an hour and half since I finished drinking it and my tongue still tastes like rocks, so it definitely has a strong finish! I just wish I liked the taste of rocks better!

6 thoughts on “My First Rou Gui Oolong

  1. I always enjoy the different descriptions coming from people with different tastes! My palate is very savoury/salty, and therefore I enjoy teas with a mineral hint. I have a Wuyi yancha named “Lost Robe”, which is a particular favourite: the rocky mineral is there, but it tastes more of sweet things and baked goods, to me, than anything else.

    I’m really enjoying your blog. Have you tried any of the aged shengs yet? What do you think of them, if so?


      1. My favourite sheng is a 2003 Yuanjiutang Ban Zhang, which you’ve probably seen me raving about elsewhere. I’ve also just ordered a Famingyuan Nannuo from 2008, from the same seller. He offered me some free samples when he saw on a group that I was looking to dive back into puerh after some unpleasant experiences, and those are the two I fell in love with!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was so dubious when the samples arrived, but that YBZ truly converted me! If I close my eyes, I can imagine light rain and a beach bonfire, whilst smelling the waves crashing to the shore and tasting the salty sea air. It’s genuinely the first time that a tea has moved me to feeling transported elsewhere, and I’d probably drink it every day if I could.

        The Nannuo, on the other hand, starts off with the typical leather and wood aroma and taste, but further steepings bring out strong notes of vanilla and fruit. It’s not even a gradual shift – it happens almost unexpectedly, which makes it an even more intruiging tea than it might have been otherwise.

        I think I need to get my hands on some rou gui now, as I’m very fond of oolongs 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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