PANLAN QI LAN | yancha oolong

notes  stone | lavender | springy

PANLAN QI LAN is a yancha ("rock tea") from the outer Wuyi mountain range of Fujian province, China. This lot is a qi lan, or "rare orchid" production. Typically, qi lan cultivar material is more gently processed with a middling oxidation and lighter roast to preserve its natural expression of  overripe fruits and sugary perfume. Running against the wind as usual, our yancha producer Shan Zhong applies a generous old world roast, adding significant body and yan yun ("rock sensation") to a yancha process that, for all its elegance, can lack texture. This is a zhoucha ("island tea") yancha, meaning the tea was grown and produced well outside Wuyi national park—Panlan tea garden, our partner farm in this undervalued producing region, sits at roughly 1,000 meters elevation, while Wuyi park gardens top out around 800 meters. The alpine microclimate of Panlan breeds high stress tea trees that grow slowly and produce concentrated compounds responsible for qi lan's signature sweetness (a common theme in high elevation teas), compounding the cultivar's already bright and saccharine qualities. This is a very tasty and approachable yancha, ideal as an introduction to the genre.

This lot was hand-produced from beginning to end. Shan's qi lan trees were plucked in October, sun-withered, manually bruised, pan-fried over a wood fire to fix, rolled to shape in cloth sacks, and charcoal roasted at low temperature in 3 rounds before being rested in bamboo baskets. When Shan felt the tea was ready, he put it to a gentle re-roasting in late December to liven up the material before shipping to us. Yancha almost always benefits from a decent resting, as the charcoal roast settles into the tea and harsher aromas slowly taper. This lot is fresh with roasty minerality, but all the sugars and dainty florals of qi lan sing. Every indication is this tea will improve with age, though the limited size of this lot suggests it won't be around that long.

Deeply undervalued due to the Chinese penchant for tea with pedigree, Panlan's zhoucha represents an incredible value for tea that outpaces its fancier cousins. Good qi lan is a luxury; as with all of Shan's yancha, we're privileged to bring an affordable version to you that only tastes expensive. Steep in medium-hot water in short bursts to work through roast and minerals before accessing softer layers of lavender and plum. 

vintage —autumn '21 (roasted winter '21)
style — yancha ("rock tea") [qi lan]
cultivar(s) — qi lan ("rare orchid")
region — Yong'an, Fujian, China
locale — Panlan tea farm
elevation — 1000 meters
producer — Shan Zhong
nomenclature —qi ()—"rare" | lan (兰)—"orchid"


(use freshly boiled spring water)

modern, large format
[300 ml+ vessel — BOLI, large teapot]

5 grams — 195°F (90°C) — 1 minute, 30 seconds

traditional, small format
[150 ml- vessel — gaiwan, small teapot]

6 grams — 195°F (90°C) — 10 seconds
(no rinse)
+10-15 seconds each additional steep