Golden Turtle (黃金龜, Huáng Jīn Guī, "Golden Turtle") - 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, these teas are sold in single-serving sachets in order to prevent oxidation and the loss of their delicate fragrances. Golden Turtle, along with Hairy Crab and Root Mountain, is one of the three most famous varietals that have become synonymous with the term Color Types. It is distinct for having a deeper golden color than the rest, both in leaf and liquor, as well as a buoyant, agreeable fruit note reminiscent of fresh cantaloupe.
A nice little sample of very good oolong. It was a little grassy, a little melon-y, and had a slightly buttery mouth feel.