Que She (Sparrow’s Tongue)
Rock Wulong Tea 2016
Named for its delicate and narrow shape, Sparrow’s Tongue has a rich and unique aroma with a smooth flavor and an enduring aftertaste that is distinctive from any other.
- Tea Origin
- Wuyi Shan, Northern Fujian Province, China
- Tea Bush
- Que She
- Tea Master
- Shi Ying
- Harvest Time
- 2nd week of May
- Picking Standard
- 1 young leaf and 2 full leaves
Sparrow’s Tongue is one of Wu Yi Mountains’ most ancient teas. As a recognized tribute tea to the Song Dynasty, it achieved great fame among influential and prominent people of the time. Due to its singular flavor, Sparrow’s Tongue is a vital component in most of the Big Red Robe wulong blends but is rarely sold unblended in the open market. The cultivar is known for growing very slowly and producing a smaller and later yield than others. As result, Sparrow’s Tongue is a rare and slightly more expensive rock wulong tea. Drinking this tea gives one a higher appreciation and understanding of a major element of many high quality “Da Hong Pao” wulongs.
The wulong tea picking season begins around April 20th, this tea is always picked at the end of the harvest season because it is the last bush to grow. There are so many varieties of tea bushes that grow in Wuyi Mountain to make rock wulong tea, and each one has a different picking time, and can only be picked for about 3-5 days per year. For Wu Yi Shan wulong, only the top three or four leaves of the new growth are picked. Producers will wait for all the tea buds to completely open into tea leaves, when the last piece is ⅔ of the second leaf, called “zhong kai mian.”
After picking, tea makers use large buckets to carry the leaves back to the factory to rest under the sunshine on top of fabric or bamboo sheets for a couple of hours. The leaves will be moved inside and spread about an inch thick on large round bamboo trays. The trays are placed on wooden shelves. Every 8-12 hours the tea master will shake the trays to let the tea leaves rub up against each other. This rubbing agitates cell walls within the leaf, encouraging their natural oxidation and the flavor development that accompanies it. The leaves will then be fired for about 8 minutes with a hot temperature rolling machine to stop the oxidation. A kneading machine is then used to compress the leaves into their long twisted shape. Once fully shaped, the leaves will be quickly dried for about 40 minutes in a 110 celsius oven. The stems and untwisted leaves will then be sorted out by hand.
Finally, now the tea is nearly fully made, the leaves are roasted above bamboo charcoal for about four hours for stability and flavor development. The tea is given a 20-30 days break before a second shorter roasting for two or three hours. During this process, the tea master adjusts to charcoal pot’s temperature by packing ashes over the hot coals. This smokeless heat is used so as not to contaminate to the tea with burnt flavors, thus allowing you to enjoy a pure and delicate representation of the aroma that Sparrow’s Tongue leaves have to offer.
No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.
Que She (Sparrow’s Tongue) brewing guidelines
Teaware: 12 oz. glass, porcelain or yi xing clay pot
Amount: 1 Tbs of tea leaves
Water: 212 F (boiling) filtered water
Infusion: First infusion at least 2 minutes. The leaves are good for six infusions.