I wanted to thank Teagini for the opportunity to try this amazing tea. This tea is quite rare, and it would've been difficult to track it down without them. They are great at finding these amazing teas from all throughout China, and over the next few days I will be trying a few of them
Ma Tou Yan Rou Gui comes to us from a small tea farm in Wuyi, a region in China world famous for its Oolongs. This is one of the most sought after teas in the region, and its name comes from iconic "Horse Head" rock formation that marks a small valley with a microclimate ideal for growing this legendary tea. The minerals in the soil and the slow growth of this tea allow it to build a unique flavor profile that is amazing to behold.
With the excitement building, I decided to give this tea a try. I heated the water to just about boiling and steeped the tea for between 30 seconds and one minute. The aroma coming from this tea as it is brewing is warm nd buttery, just as you would expect from an oolong.
When I took the first sip, I was quite surprised at the flavor. It was much different than the oolongs I usually have, and it had a lot more of an earthiness to it. The flavor actually reminded me a lot of a puerh. The deep earthiness was definitely unique to this tea. There is a brief warm and buttery flavor at the beginning of this tea, but it is soon played off by the earthiness and almost a cinnamon flavor.
The notes of this tea are all pretty much the same power. No single note stands out as being more noticeable than the others, so the tea tastes more or less flat. That being said, nothing about this tea is "average". It has a very complex flavor profile that is unique for an Oolong.
In the beginning of the sip, you have the traditional "oolong taste", which to me is warm buttery toast with a hint of honey (even though I don't eat butter or honey). Towards the end you have an earthiness, almost like a puerh, and somewhere in the middle you have a bit of a spicy or cinnamon flavor, which is not overpowering but it is there in the background. At the very end, almost after the tea is gone, you get a slight sweetness accompanied by a mouth watering astringency that lingers in the mouth for a few seconds.
I steeped the tea a second time for even longer than before, hoping to extract a little more flavor than before. After the second steeping, the tea has lost most of its earthiness and spiciness, and it takes on a much milder and sweeter flavor, more typical of an oolong. The second steeping of this is quite nice. Perhaps you can have the first steeping during the day and then enjoy the second steeping in the evening as a "dessert tea" with less caffeine.
This is such a cool tea with a very complex flavor profile. I am so grateful for the opportunity to try it. I love taking a little bit of time before trying a tea to learn more about its history and cultural significance. This really makes it an enriching experience, and helps me have a greater appreciation for the tea itself.
Thank you so much for reading this tea review. I will be tasting more rare Chinese teas in the next few days so please check out the "Green Tea" and "Oolong Tea" sections of my blog for more tea reviews. Enjoy!