When looking into the shui xian cultivar, the name “rou gui” kept coming up, and with good reason. They are both from the same part of China, and they both are great intro teas to much sought after Wuyi teas. Time to get the facts.
1 The Name
The name “Rou Gui” in Chinese means “Cinnamon” or “Cassia Bark” (a pseudo cinnamon with a similar flavor). The name refers to the tea’s spicy taste and sweet fragrant aroma and does not indicate any botanical relationship. Rou Gui is both a “tea type” and a genetically unique cultivar of the tea plant.
2 The Location
Like the Shui Xian, Rou Gui is from the Wuyi growing region of Fujian province on the southeast coast of China. First cultivated during the Qing Dynasty which was the last imperial dynasty of China (1644 to 1912).
3 It’s More About the Processing
Experts note that the firing and oxidation levels often have more to do with the tea’s lasting flavor than the actual tea cultivar used. However, a good tea master knows how to work with that cultivar to bring out its own particular flavor characteristics. There are different roasting levels for Rou Gui, also, that will make quite a difference. Two processing standards are now used, one more traditional and producing the typical spicy characteristics and a new consumer standard that gives the leaves a mixed color and a more fruity aroma. The Rou Gui cultivar has a distinctive gastronomic character and is not as mild to the weaker stomach.
4 Storing and Aging
All of medium to high-roasted Wuyi rock tea can be stored for over 2-3 years. In fact, the high-roasted tea can be stored for at least 4 years. Keep them sealed in an airtight container and away from excessive heat and cold. Matured Rou Guis tend to be milder than the fresher ones. In fact, if you get a batch that is somewhat astringent, you can store the leaves for about 3 years and then try it.
5 Lower Price and Great Quality
While not famous like Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui (like Shui Xian) is still flavorful and a great quality tea while saving you money. The better quality versions of this tea are starting to go up in price as people learn more about them. The more elite versions, in fact, compete with gongfu grades of Si Da Ming Cong. This style of tea tends to be great with seafood.
Shop for Imperial Zheng Yan Competition Rou Gui (Cinnamon) Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea on our store site.