What is Fan Qing in Rock Tea?

When drinking the same tea at different times, the aroma and taste are suddenly different from the day you purchased it after a few months, and it also produces an astringent taste. This is very likely that the tea you drink got Fan Qing (返青).

Rock tea, also known as Yancha, is an oolong tea grown in the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian province, China. Many tea lovers love Wuyi rock tea due to its unique taste and complex fragrance. If you usually drink Wuyi yancha, you probably notice a strange phenomenon.

When drinking the same tea at different times, the aroma and taste are suddenly different from the day you purchased it after a few months, and it also produces an astringent taste. This is very likely that the tea you drink got Fan Qing (返青).


What is Fan Qing?

Rock Tea

Rock Tea

Fan Qing originally refers to the process in which plant seedlings turn from yellow to green and resume growth after transplanting or overwintering. In tea, Fan Qing refers to the grassy taste or off-flavors.

The “going back to green” of tea leaves can be divided into two situations. One is that when the dry tea is smelled, the tea leaves have an apparent grassy smell, usually accompanied by damp or strange smells. The other is that the tea liquid has a noticeable grassy taste in brewing, bringing discomfort after drinking.

Characteristics of Fan Qing

Rock Tea

Rock Tea

Feel: Yan Cha without Fan Qing will make a crisp sound and break easily when pinched by hand; However, Fan Qing rock tea will be sticky due to its high water content.
Taste: Once it turns green, rock tea exhibits a potent green and astringent flavor similar to leaves. Upon consumption, the tea presents a robust green and astringent taste, accompanied by a tangy scent of green leaves, with a diminished or absent aroma compared to its original state when purchased. In severe cases, staleness may appear. This phenomenon can be called Fan Qing.

Why did Fan Qing happen?

Generally, Wuyi Rock Tea gets Fan Qing because the tea leaves are damp, which causes the rock tea to have a grassy and astringent taste.
There’re two significant reasons why Fan Qing happens:

①Too much moisture in the environment.
The tea leaves have been in contact with the air for a long time, absorbing water molecules in the air and causing the tea leaves to be damp.

②The tea itself has a certain amount of water content.
After a long storage time, the internal water will overflow the surface due to the transformation of the tea’s active ingredients, resulting in dampness.

How to deal with Fan Qing tea?

For Yancha with Fan Qing, re-roasting is the best way to solve this problem.
This re-roast process can stabilize and improve the quality of tea, which can also keep it for a long time.

How to prevent it?

Rock Tea

Rock Tea

Rock tea must be stored away from light, at low temperatures, in dry and sealed conditions to effectively insulate it from the attack of moisture, oxygen, and other enemies, prolong its optimal drinking period and maintain its pure taste and aroma.

Rock tea with a light roasting has a relatively high moisture content and active ingredient. Therefore, the requirements for tea storage are higher than other types. Under the sealed condition, as rock tea contains a certain amount of water, if heated or stored too long, the internal water will slowly overflow the surface, leading to Fan Qing. However, under low-temperature conditions, the transformation of the active ingredients is relatively slow.

Rock teas are between medium and heavy roast is not accessible to Fan Qing. This is because the water content is relatively low after the tea leaves have been roasted to a medium level, especially for the heavily roasted rock tea, which has even lower water content and is relatively slow in the process of active transformation. Therefore, medium or heavily roasted rock tea should only be kept sealed when storing.


Rock Tea

Rock Tea

When storing rock tea, you need to pay attention to the following points:

1. Choose a variety suitable for aging
Considering that the aroma of tea leaves will weaken after aging, but the liquid will be thicker and smoother, you can choose Shui Xian, Lao Cong Shui Xian, Wuyi Qi Zhong, and other varieties that perform better in taste over time.

2. Choose medium or heavily roasted rock tea
The active ingredients of tea have a significant impact on the transformation process during aging. Using a medium to high roast tea fully fired for aging is advisable. However, it is essential to avoid selecting overheated tea products, as such tea is no longer active.

3. Choose an ideal place to age Yancha
Aging rock tea is common among tea lovers, requiring a specific environment to achieve the desired results. For tea lovers who age a small amount of rock tea, we recommend the tea be stored in small packages sealed to prevent any air or moisture from getting in. This will also allow you to open a small package for tasting at the right time to monitor the aging process and the changes in the tea over time.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read the following articles:

Differences Between Da Hong Pao Oolong, Shui Xian Oolong and Rou Gui Oolong

Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea Special Aroma cause by leap hoppers

Chinese Famous Tea – Dahongpao

The Storage of Tea

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