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Chinese Oolong Tea Reviews: Mr. Lin Rui Fu

I’ve written about Mr. Lin Rui Fu before and don’t hide my admiration for him. As a guy from a Midwestern, blue-collar family, I relate to his hard-work, high-quality, no-nonsense approach. Most Chinese tea makers and traders have an ornate room with a tea table and fine tea ware to entertain their guests (and I have no problem with this aesthetic). Mr. Lin has a small, spartan tea room resembling the office of the local auto mechanic.

Mr. Lin in his tea fields

His tea is some of the best quality oolong tea I have come across. Growing at a high altitude of 2,400 feet, the tea plants are perfectly manicured lines wrapped around the mountains. The tea, the fields, and the factory are all immaculate and the homemade food upstairs is my favorite. Below is a comparison of our current teas from him which highlight basic Anxi tea styles.

Golden Dawn Oolong Tea

(Gongfu steeping - 6 grams | 6 oz water | 195°F | Rinse 5 sec. | Steep 30 sec | Repeat)

More commonly known as Huang Jin Gui, the locals call this tea “Huang Dan” (Yellow/Morning-Dawn). To be properly understood, it should be appreciated for the way it yields. This tea is pristinely clean and light and seems to digest like light rain on ready soil. The most prominent aspects of the flavor are its dark mineral notes, acting more like rests in a good beat - felt rather than noticed. Huang Jin Gui is famous for its aroma which is clean, lightly floral, and pleasantly lacks any thickness of perfume or broth. This cup of tea goes down easy, doesn’t linger long, and seems to always take the path of least resistance. It’s an everyman’s everyday tea and doesn’t require you to pay attention to it to be appreciated.It’s not the tea I bring out to impress my friends, but I drink a lot of it, especially in the morning.

 

 Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong Tea

(Gongfu steeping - 6 grams | 6 oz water | 195°F | Rinse 5 sec. | Steep 30 sec | Repeat)

Ti Kwan Yin, a classic Chinese oolong tea, translates as “Iron Goddess of Mercy” - and such great names are always worth noting. This is a traditional version with a moderate amount of baking in the final step of processing. Ti Kwan Yin and Huang Jin Gui are both named after the tea plant cultivar used to make the tea and are often processed in similar ways. However, each possesses unique attributes, and the thick tea leaves of Ti Kwan Yin tend to give it a fuller and more pronounced flavor and mouthfeel, where Huang Jin Gui tends to highlight the aroma. The dark color of the liquor can be misleading as it is surprisingly light in body and floral in character. The baking brings out depth more than toastiness – a warm familiarity in the gut rather than frills and fancy on the palette. This cup of tea is not too fussy when you steep it, either, and stays knowable and dependable on each visit. It’s not a tea to get in the way of a moment, but a tea you wanted to be there.

 

Huang Jin Gui Full Roast Oolong Tea

(Gongfu steeping - 6 grams | 6 oz water | 195°F | Rinse 5 sec. | Steep 30 sec | Repeat)

Sometimes the best way to judge the quality is to hold it in your hands. The finer details of craftsmanship tend to reveal themselves at these moments. Though this tea is the same tea plant cultivar as our Golden Dawn Oolong, the similarities end there. As stated in the name, this tea gets the traditional baking that brings out depth by sending the flavor into the body rather than up into the nasal cavities like “green” oolong tend to do. It has a full body and oily mouthfeel that allows those dark, sugary flavors to linger. The aroma is stacked, but stays surprisingly floral instead of charcoal-like, which is the sign of skilled baking by Mr. Lin. There’s a certain comfort in this cup of tea - like the old country music lyric “sometimes this old farm feels like a long-lost friend.” If you don’t have an old farm, this tea gets you similar sentiments - a loyal companion to everyday life.

-Michael

 

 

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