Yancha is famous for its unique Yen flavor which means a special aroma and only Rock tea has this feature. It is produced in Wuyi Mountain in Fujian Province.
The tea trees grow in the cracks or gaps of the rocks on Wuyi Mountain, so the teas made from these tea trees are called Rock tea (Yancha in Chinese pinyin)
Yancha is a half-fermented tea. Its production method is between green tea and black tea. The most famous Yancha is Da Hong Pao tea.
1. History of Yancha
In AD 806-820, Yancha was called “Wan Gan Hou”, which is the earliest record of Wuyi tea.
In the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), the tea-making technology entered a period of reform and drinking tea prevailed over the country. Tea had become an indispensable part of people’s daily life.
At that time, there were about 100 kinds of tea existed, and dozens of tea were sent to the emperor and nobles as Gongcha (tribute tea enjoyed by emperor or nobles). Wuyi tea is one of the Gongcha.
In 1302 (during the Yuan Dynasty), the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty was addicted to tea and had a rich experience in tasting tea. Wuyi tea became his first choice. He set up a garden called “Royal Tea Garden” beside the Wuyi Mountain. The tea garden lasted for 255 years, which objectively expanded the influence of Wuyi tea.
In the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), in the process of producing tea, people kept exploring and innovating the technology, and then Wuyi oolong tea appeared.
The Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) is a period of all-round development Yancha. Many kinds of Yancha were invented.
In the 17th century, Yancha began to be exported. In 1607, the Dutch East India Company purchased Yancha for the first time and sold it all over Europe.
In the early days of the founding of New China, land reform was implemented, and the tea hills were distributed to local farmers, thus the production of Yancha increasing further.
2. Growth environment of Yancha
Yancha is produced in Wuyi Mountain, which is a 5A scenic spot with a very rich ecosystem. It is a world natural and cultural heritage.
Wuyi Mountain has a mild climate, warm in winter, cool in summer, abundant annual rainfall about 2000mm.
Wuyi Mountain is a typical Danxia landform with many cliffs. The rocks in Wuyi Mountain are mainly quartzite, conglomerate, red sandstone, shale, tuff and so on. The surface soil is acid red soil with rich humus. This kind of soil is very suitable for the growth of tea trees.
Besides the surface soil, the latitude, longitude, altitude, and climate are also important factors. The average altitude of Wuyi Mountain is more than 600 meters, and the highest peak is 729 meters. It belongs to the middle altitude area. Generally speaking, China’s famous tea, especially oolong tea, is almost produced at this altitude.
The local tea farmers use the gaps and cracks of rocks to build stone walls to plant tea trees. Especially, the soil here is formed by the weathered acidic rocks, this is why the Yancha has a unique flavor.
3. Five main types of Yancha
The oolong tea produced in the Wuyi Mountain is called Yancha, so there are as many kinds of Yancha as that of Wuyi oolong tea.
There are more than one thousand Rock tea varieties on the record. If you drink one kind of Rock tea every day, it will take at least three years to drink all Rock teas. Yancha are generally named by its growth area, shape, color, fragrance, and myths or legends.
With the development of history and the evolution of the tea trees, some varieties have gradually faded out. Nowadays, there are five main famous types of Yancha left.
Da Hong Pao
Da Hong Pao literally called Big Red Robe, is the most famous Yancha. Da Hong Pao is named by a legend. According to the classification in the market, Da Hong Pao can be classified into three types, Beidou Da Hong Pao, Qidan Da Hong Pao, and Mixed Da Hong Pao.
Wuyi Rougui tea
Wuyi Rougui tea has a history of more than 100 years. Its most remarkable feature is its strong and long-lasting fragrance.
Wuyi Shui Xian tea (Shui Hsien tea)
Shui Xian tea is also called Shui Hsien tea or Narcissus tea. Shui Xian means “Narcissus”, but it is not real Narcissus. Mellow taste is Wuyi Shui Xian tea’s feature. The older the tea tree, the more mellow the tea tastes.
Wuyi Ming Cong
Wuyi Ming Cong tea is a variety that is bred for a long time by nature. Four famous Ming Cong (Si Da Ming Cong): Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Bai Ji Guan, and Shui Jin Gui. Because Da Hong Pao has the highest popularity, people put it in a separate category.
- Tie Luo Han, literally called Iron Arhat.
- Bai Ji Guan, literally called White Cockscomb.
- Shui Jin Gui, literally called Golden Water Turtle.
Wuyi wild tea
There are some wild teas that have no name growing in Wuyi Mountain. Some of them also have high quality.
Besides, according to the growth area of the tea trees, Yancha can be classified into three types:
- Zhengyan: the tea trees grow in the Wuyi Mountain Scenic Spot, with the best quality.
- Banyan: the tea trees grow in the surrounding of the Wuyi Mountain Scenic Spot.
- Zhoucha: the tea trees grow in the villages and towns near the Wuyi Mountain Scenic spot.
4. Six types of fragrance of Yancha
According to the variety and different producing technology, there are six common types of fragrance of Yancha:
- Flower fragrance such as orchid, osmanthus, lilac, rose, gardenia, and so on.
- Fruit fragrance
- Milk fragrance
- Wood fragrance
- Caramel fragrance
- Reed leaves fragrance
5. Health benefits of Yancha
Here are the main benefits of Yancha (Wuyi Rock tea):
- Protecting teeth
- Improving immunity
- Preventing eye diseases
- Protecting urinary organs
- Protecting digestive organs
- Losing weight and beautifying
- Preventing and treating cardiovascular disease