Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

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Sep 28th 15 3:43 am
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Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

by john.b » Sep 28th 15 3:43 am

I've not been so active here lately but I have tried a couple of unusual tea types somewhat recently so I'll mention them. Of course saying anything about a tea type based on trying just one tea of that type really doesn't work; no way to get a baseline from one tea, and even two or three might not be typical, or the best quality examples. I guess that's where sharing experience through discussion in a forum like this comes in.

Some thoughts to start:

Ban Tian Yao: just another Wuyi Yancha, but not one of the more common ones. The one I tried was odd in flavor profile for emphasis on a strong mineral component, towards tar or maybe even ink (right--not something people actually taste), but it may have been related to the tea being young, to the char not settling out yet. The feel of the tea was nice, a bit different, more body to it than some Wuyi Yanchas tend to have, and it definitely didn't fade away fast like some can. Online research indicates almost nothing besides that the tea isn't very common; some references say it might naturally have a smoky taste.

Jin Kuan Yin: not really just another Wuyi Yancha, this is supposed to be a hybrid plant of two different other types, one being Tie Kuan Yin. That would be business as usual in Taiwan, right, but a bit odd for Chinese teas to mix them up, and it wasn't completely clear in the research how that worked. One reference really did say the tea was a hybrid through grafting, not genetic mixing, but really that could just be a mistake on the part of one source. The tea was nice, not so unusual as the other types go. The mid-level roast really seemed to suit the tea and the one I tried seemed to be of an exceptional example so all good. It was from a specialty tea shop, a cafe in Bangkok, supposedly one of those straight from the farmer sourcing deals (who knows, right), so the loose tea price was a bit much, $30 for 50 grams, but that's how it goes with some teas.

It seems spammy to reference blogs here but I'll do it anyway, the second at least, in case someone wants to read more. Really I would like more input about what others have tried of these two teas, but sometimes it works out like that, sometimes it doesn't.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... l-tea.html

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Sep 28th 15 10:44 am
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Re: Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

by Rui » Sep 28th 15 10:44 am

Thanks for the review of both teas. :D

Another two Wulong teas for my wife and I to try for sure as they are both available in Europe but not frequently though as you said. One day my wife is going to kill me with so much tea around. :lol: They both sound exciting for us to try them out.

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Oct 2nd 15 10:50 am
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Re: Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

by Tead Off » Oct 2nd 15 10:50 am

John B,

Those are some pretty hefty prices at that shop you discovered. Can't imagine dropping in for some tea. :D It reminds me of a shop I walked in and out of when I looked at their menu in Tokyo's Omotesando neighborhood. Another sign of 'class warfare' trying to separate the haves and have nots in the battle for Bangkok.

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Re: Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

by theredbaron » Oct 2nd 15 6:11 pm

Tead Off wrote: Another sign of 'class warfare' trying to separate the haves and have nots in the battle for Bangkok.

Indeed.

Exactly that thought jumped into my mind when i looked at the website of this shop.

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Re: Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

by john.b » Oct 12th 15 5:54 am

The Peace Oriental shop really pushed it by asking 650 baht for a tiny pot of tea ($20 US), to brew a dozen 3/4 ounce glasses of tea. Asking for only 1000 baht / $30 for an entire 50 grams makes the loose tea seem like a bargain in comparison. There really is a lot of overhead tied up in setting aside that much floor space in a trendy Bangkok neighborhood, along with costs for interior decoration and staffing, all to support a limited number of people drinking cups of tea. If the right demand is there the business model works, but either way the issue is already settled related to cost of living in neighborhoods like Ekamai.

I've now bought two higher-grade Wuyi Yanchas at the Chinatown shop for exactly half that, 1000 baht / $30 for 100 grams (that Ban Tian Yao and a second Da Hong Pao). That's still a good bit to pay for tea but my best guess is that it really is the grade of tea online shops are charging double or more that for. They also sell lower grades of tea that are probably pretty good for the $10 to $20 / 100 grams range.

No matter what I'm paying for tea it's nice to sit with the shop owner and try the tea before I buy it, then virtually no chance of surprises or guesswork about quality, except in the dodgiest shops where what you drink and what you buy wouldn't be the same tea.

Make of it what you will but those owners mentioned the same teas are going for more in China. I was a bit surprised by that too, when I visited China last, that higher grade teas cost every bit as much as the online prices you see in America or the UK. It's routinely expressed as common knowledge that the very highest grades of tea wouldn't even go on the market; they'd be allocated for purchase before they were even made.

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Oct 12th 15 7:34 am
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Re: Rare Wuyi Yanchas: Ban Tian Yao and Jin Kuan Yin

by Rui » Oct 12th 15 7:34 am

john.b wrote:It's routinely expressed as common knowledge that the very highest grades of tea wouldn't even go on the market; they'd be allocated for purchase before they were even made.
You are probably right there as this year I pre-ordered Dragon Well more than a month before it was available and this tea was particularly divine. Hopefully I'll be able to do the same next year.