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Wu Long (Oolong) Tea

Ban Tian Yao 半天腰

Cooked bamboo leaves. Showy herbaceous and floral fragrance, soft body, and addictive tannins with hints of spiciness.

Regular price $29.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $29.00 USD


Shi Zi Feng Spring 2018: Terroir and processing have given this tea great complexity and deep notes of liquefied rocks.

About This Tea

Ban Tian Yao is an outgoing varietal with a lot of depth and complexity in the tannins. It is a tea that stumps even the highest regarded connoisseurs to nail down the tasting profile in a conventional way. Our Ban Tian Yao is made by the Zhang family, who have two of China's most prolific tea-producing daughters. They are well respected in the industry and are known for producing some of the world's best tea. This batch comes from right under Shi Zi Feng, well-nourished by drippings from the rock. The terroir offers the tea complexity and deep notes of liquefied rocks.

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  • Origin

    Shi Zi Feng, Wu Yi Shan, Fu Jian Province, China (~300-500m elevation)

  • History and Significance

    Ban Tian Yao means halfway heaven's waist because some older trees often grow halfway off a cliff. In modern times the name slowly morphed into 半天妖, same pronunciation, but means "halfway heaven's demon," referring to the tea's unique aroma and aftertaste.

  • Category

    Category: Wu Long (Oolong) Tea

    Sub-Category: Min Bei Wu Long (Yan Cha, Cliff Tea)

  • Processing

    Yan Cha tea is made with only the leaves, making it one of the latest teas to be harvested each year, with Ban Yan picking time around early to mid-April and Zheng Yan early May. After the teas are sufficiently wilted, they remain on bamboo trays for a few hours before being shaken or tumbled to manage enzyme activity. This step regulates how the water inside the leaves travels outward. The process is repeated every hour, 5-8 times throughout the evening and night until morning. Once the teas are acceptably fermented in the early morning, they are then wok-fried to kill the enzymes in the leaves to stop the fermentation. Fresh out of the wok when the leaves are still hot and soft, they are rolled vigorously to break the surface membranes to bring out more consistent flavors in the tea. The most tedious step in all Chinese tea making is the stem-picking step, which in Yan Cha's case takes place for several months following the rough tea making. It is a step where undesired yellow leaves (old leaves) and stems are picked out by hand. The "cleaned" tea is then roasted on very dim charcoal ash for 8–12 hours, 1-3 times depending on the varietal, to make it a finished Yan Cha.

  • Tasting Notes

    Ban Tian Yao is an ancient tea with an herbaceous aroma that resembles cooked bamboo leaves. It also has the fragrance of wildflowers. It finishes with a hint of spiciness that some perceive as bitterness. Tea connoisseurs sometimes speak of the "demonic aroma" of this varietal, hence the name "halfway heaven's demon," and struggle to box the notes into conventional tasting profiles.

  • Brewing Instructions

    Please see above for the category specific brewing specs for Gong Fu brewing. For brewing in a teapot, mug, or single cup visit this article here.

  • Learn How To Gong Fu Brew

    This foundational course is a great resource to help you understand the methods and motions of Gong Fu Brewing.