Wuyishan, located in China’s southeast province of Fujian, is a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site, well known for its spectacular mountains, dramatic gorges, mysterious monasteries and dense forests.
Incredible scenery aside, it’s also known for some of the most expensive teas in the world. Da Hong Pao — the original, derived from ancient, nearly extinct mother trees of Wuyishan — costs more than 30 times its gold; almost US $1,400 for a single gram, according to BBC. It’s said to have woody, orchid notes with a long, sweet finish.
Lesser known (and more affordable) is Singaporean specialty tea brand Fort Sanctuary, whose leaves are harvested from a namesake plot in Wuyishan by local tea masters, then sent to Singapore for firing and resting. Eschewing conventional tea names that usually give an impression of the brew, Fort Sanctuary Wuyi rock-essence teas have numbers indicating a particular variant, followed by an alphabet to a particular sequence of firing and resting. No fancy names, just really, really good, complex tea.
The Singapore leg of Fort Sanctuary’s production is what makes its tea uniquely local. At its Tuas facility, Wuyishan’s tea leaves undergo precise procedures to bring out its best characteristics in terms of intensity, richness, clarity, vibrancy, texture and finish.
There are four variants in its current repertoire: the 609 is a great entry-level Wuyi rock-essence with a full body and strong finish; the 528 is a classic example of a highly respected Wuyi rock-essence tea that is smooth and soft with a rich and sweet aftertaste; the 516 is more refined than the 528 with its clean, vibrant mouthfeel; the 766 is heavy on all fronts; while the 745, also the brand’s most exclusive, has a medium body and algae-like flavours that’s distinctive of the Wuyi terroir.
Save for the 7-variants, all others are available in two to three expressions for different tea-drinking experiences. Don’t worry if it doesn’t quite make sense: Fort Sanctuary’s serene, spa-like tea house at Esplanade Mall offers insightful demonstrations and a comprehensive tasting menu (chilled options included for sweltering days) to help you get acquainted at your own pace.
Fort Sanctuary, #02-04 Esplanade Mall8 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039802, 6254 8048.
(Main and featured image: Origin Journeys)