50g Early 1990s Kitchen Witch Gu Yu Cha 谷雨茶

Zhang Zhou

(2 reviews) Write a Review
Bag Size:
50.00 Grams

Out of stock

Early 1990s Kitchen Witch Gu Yu Cha (谷雨茶, Gǔ Yǔ Chá, "Grain Rain Tea") is a form of vernacular fermented tea from Guangxi province. The name Gǔ Yǔ means “Grain Rain” and refers to the late spring rainy season, which is when this tea is harvested. It is usually harvested from wild or feral plants that grow in and around the mountain farms of Guangxi. These local plants are not managed by tea farmers and are coursely harvested because this tea is intended primarily for consumption by the farmers. The resulting product is diffuse with a high proportion of twigs.

In its fresh state, Gǔ Yǔ Chá is essentially a green tea. It is traditionally stored in grain sacks in the rafters of farmhouse kitchens. These rural kitchens feature open architecture and wood burning stoves which produce continuous wood smoke that prevents the tea from molding in the extremely moist and humid Guangxi climate. Gǔ Yǔ Chá is rarely if ever seen for sale in tea markets. Despite its humble origins, this tea plays an essential role in the culture of Guangxi because it is the main ingredient in the ancient and iconic food Yóu Chá 油茶 ("Oil Tea"). This dish consists of dried Gǔ Yǔ Chá leaves fried in oil with salt, ginger, garlic, scallions, peanuts, and other ingredients pounded during the cooking process with a special wooden mallet until a rich roasted fragrance rises from the frying ingredients. Water is then added and the mixture brought to a boil creating a rich, flavorful broth. FInally, the Yóu Chá is strained and served in a bowl with more salt, scallions and peanuts. It is traditionally eaten for breakfast with a number of small side dishes.

When steeped as tea, aged Gǔ Yǔ Chá has an earthy, almost seafood flavor with a heavy minerality, pronounced oakwood notes, a fragrance of petrichor and a surprisingly bright, sweet aroma on the exhale. Gǔ Yǔ Chá is unique among Hei Chas in that it is consumed regularly by the people who produce it whereas most other Hei Cha is produced as an export commodity. As a result this tea is little-known outside of Guangxi. Its relative obscurity means that very old vintages can still be found in the hands of the farmers who produce it.

Zhang sent us two different samples on our last order, both from the early 1990's. We liked them both so we kept both - they're from different households and are distinguishable by one being "twiggier" than the other. We named the twiggy style one "Kitchen Witch" and leafy style one "Zao Shen" after the Chinese kitchen deity. Of the two, the twiggy is slightly more expensive and we also tend to like it better - it's slightly more sweet and substantial - but we love having the range and contrast of this unique tea.

2 Reviews

  • 5
    Early 1990s Kitchen Witch Gu Ya Cha

    Posted by Matthew Peretz on Jun 13th 2023

    In the last several months, I have tasted almost 40 teas from white, red, green, yellow, oolong, puer and black teas… mostly prepared gongfu cha style. I would say that of those 40, puer is an absolute keeper (but already was for 20 years) and then the Pomelo tea sold here by West China tea… and for some strange reason, I’m in LOVE with this Early 1990’s Kitchen Witch Gu Yu Cha. I had almost given up on Hei Cha teas…. And was just going to stick with the finest green and black puer teas and the Pomelo tea, and I happened on this one. I’m just saying… it’s gotta count for something considering how many teas i tried in ever possible category. I like stronger teas, mind you, because I had sinus surgeries… so it’s not that I don’t like some mild teas, but the flavor is largely lost on me. So here’s 5 thumbs up for this Kitchen Witch stuff!!!

  • 5
    Surprisingly sweet with depth and smoke

    Posted by Joseph on May 15th 2023

    This is one of those rare finds where you find a tea from the 90’s or before and it was so well stored you don’t notice any “aged funk” or negative “storage taste.” You definitely notice the storage taste, and it’s smoke. It’s not a strong smoke, nor is it a dominating smoke; but there’s definitely a light, rounded smoke presence that I presume has been gently incorporated in to the tea over many many years, as it has an almost all-encompassing, permeating taste throughout the tea. But at no point does this overpower, and at no point is it dry.; it’s almost “gourmand.” There is still a sweet, toasty, caramel-like warmth from the leaf itself that soothes and calms with each sip. The tea and smoke go VERY well together. No, it’s not like a smoked Lapsang Souchong. If you’re a fan of aged teas I’d recommend trying this, regardless if you’re a hei cha fan or not. It’s certainly worth the experience.