PANLAN BEI DOU UNROASTED is a yancha ("rock tea") from the outer Wuyi mountain range of Fujian province, China. A genetic derivative of the original da hong pao cultivar tea trees, bei dou ("north star") was first propagated in the 60's, but wasn't widely cultivated until the 80's. This is a somewhat oddball cultivar—not rare per se, but relatively unpopular outside China. Yancha is heavily influenced by market trends, and bei dou simply doesn't have the reputation of your more typical productions. We jumped at the chance to showcase it stateside, as bei dou is a richly nuanced oolong delivering a unique rock tea experience. Moreover unique about this production is that it's unroasted. Our bygone unroasted qi lan was such a hit that we had to see how other cultivars express themselves without the traditional charcoal roast, and our man at Panlan, Shan Zhong, had just the thing for us.
Hand-plucked in April '22, this lot was sun-withered, manually bruised to roughly 60% oxidation, pan-fried to fix, and shaped in cloth sacks before lightly baking to dry. If you've had our house da hong pao or que she cultivar yancha, you know our producer roasts with a heavy hand in the classic style. This lot, devoid of a charcoal roast, expresses its natural qualities clearly, offering something altogether different than its roasted equivalent. This is zhoucha yancha—or, tea grown outside Wuyi park-proper. Read more about this undervalued category of tea under our other productions.
PANLAN BEI DOU UNROASTEDdelivers a creamy ruby chocolate note atop the classic yan yun ("rock rhyme", a poetic description of yancha's mineral character) you expect of good rock tea. Steep with a heavy hand, but in slightly cooler water, and ideally in rapid spurts that allow you to appreciate this lot's nuance in stages.