Hairy Crab (毛蟹, Máoxiè, "Hairy Crab") - The oolongs of Anxi county in Fujian are diverse but largely overshadowed by the most popular cultivar, Tiě Guān Yīn. The hype machine behind this most celebrated of Chinese teas has relegated many of the heirloom tea varietals of Anxi to obscurity or even extinction. Often referred to as the sè zhǒng 色種 ("Color Types"), these minority cultivars are distinctive and worthwhile in their own right, but lack the brand recognition or high yield to justify widespread cultivation. As such, they are often blended and sold as Tiě Guān Yīn. Searching for several days in the tea markets of Anxi failed to turn up examples of these Color Types (or even any decent Tiě Guān Yīn), and it wasn't until we left Anxi empty-handed that we discovered them in a small tea processing operation in Longmen, a tiny hot spring town just north of Xiamen. The octagenarian proprietors of the establishment have long-standing family ties to tea farmers in Anxi who still grow some of the traditional Color Types, and every year they acquire small batches of these heirloom teas which they keep separate and process themselves. A low-oxidation, machine-processed example of the classic Anxi rolled oolongs. Hairy Crab, along with Golden Turtle and Root Mountain, is one of the three most famous varietals that have become synonymous with the term Color Types. Harvested later than the other Color Types, Hairy Crab has a darker leaf color and correspondinbly "darker" fragrance than the rest, while still having a delicate and mild mouthfeel.
I love this oolong! Its lovely large leaves infuse a luscious pot to linger over. Deeply aromatic, reminiscent of orchids and orchards in blossom. A smooth body and pleasantly long mouthfeel. Getcha some, stat!