Spring is waking up. Can you hear it?

Newsletter Archive Mar. 12, 2021

A man crouches next to a red string of firecrackers on a hillside covered in green spring growth in Wuyishan, home of rock wulong tea. He is calling loudly.
Brother Huang lights up a string of firecrackers and calls to the mountain at Tiebanfeng in Wuyishan, the home garden of our Tie Luo Han (Iron Monk) rock wulong tea.

On a misty morning last week, tea makers, tea scholars and officials gathered in Wuyishan National Park to remind the tea bushes there that it is time to wake up. The ritual, han shan, literally “calling the mountain” reached its apex when everyone in the grove called out, “Tea, please grow your buds!” — a centuries-old prayer for good weather and a good crop in the season to come.

We’re sending our own long-distance cheer to Wuyishan, too. This weekend we’re featuring some of their classic rock wulongs: Tie Luo Han (Iron Monk), Laocong Shuixian (Old Bush Narcissus) and Premium Shuixian.

Several dozen people dressed in festive red for han shan standing crowded among a narrow garden of terraced tea bushes in a small forested mountain valley in Wuyishan. Many of them have umbrellas, hats, or ponchos for the spring rain.
Calling the mountain in the rock wulong tea gardens of Wuyishan.

As 2021’s tea bushes wake up, 2020’s rock wulong has awakened as well. Now several months after their roasting, their aromas have opened up, leaving their softer incense-like and floral qualities even more expressive.

On the morning our tea friends in Wuyishan called out to wake the mountain, China’s agricultural calendar entered the solar term of Jingzhe or “insects awake.” This is a time when it’s not just bugs that are waking up, but the tea bushes as well. In this warm spring, tea growers with early yielding varieties or tea gardens in low elevation and warmer regions are already beginning their harvest.

The heart of the season is still a few weeks away, though. That’s especially true for the later-yielding heirloom cultivars and high-elevation gardens we like at Seven Cups. In the meantime, we’ll call and listen for the beginning of spring and toast it with the good crops those mountains gave us all in the past.


Above view of a small yixing clay teapot on a stand that holds it above spilled tea. Next to it is a pitcher of rock wulong tea and three small teacups on a long tray.
Brewing rock wulong tea in a yixing clay tea pot.