Shui Xian is a leafy, dark, charcoal-roasted, highly-oxidized strip-style rock-oolong (yan cha) from the Wu Yi Shan area of northwestern Fujian Province, China. As with all true rock oolongs, this tea is named for the specific tea bush cultivar from which the fresh leaves are plucked. Shui Xian is grown widely throughout the Wu Yi Shan and other regions of Fujian Province. It is one of the most classic varietals grown for yan cha and has been popular among Chinese oolong enthusiasts for a very long time.
Shui Xian is also known as Water Sprite Oolong. This particular manufacture, from a small village in the original producing area of the Wu Yi Shan, has large, broad, thick-ish, un-twisted but open-folded leaves and has been finish-fired over charcoal. Shui Xian has many fans among our oolong-enthusiast customers, partly because it is one of the classic Wu Yi yan cha and also because there are so many places that grow and manufacture this varietal that there are many versions of it to taste.
Our newest, village-made Shui Xian is currently made from the fresh leaf of old tea bushes (lao cong). In this particular tea garden the tea bushes are approximately 100-150 years old.
This tea was processed by hand with repeated steps of roasting and resting in between. The color of this tea is a lighter brown than the leaf of the 2016 & 2017 Spring Shui Xian Mi Xiang ‘Honey Aroma’ harvests. The charcoal roasting is lighter, too, than that which was given to our 2016 & 2017 Spring Shui Xian Mi Xiang ‘Honey Aroma’ teas. This slightly lighter roast is appropriate for an oolong made with leaf from older tea bushes. Older tea bushes such as these produce leaf with excellent flavor and high complexity, but they do not have the vim and vigor of younger tea plants. The roasting needs to be done with a careful hand, so that the taste of the roast does not overwhelm the core flavor of the tea.
This is a delicious and very special tea. The leaf is quite large and needs to be measured carefully to have enough in the cup. The flavor of the tea is precise, clean, scotch-like and peat-y. We noted elusive flavors of members of the drupes family of fruit: bitter almond, cherry pip, and apricot kernel (amaretto). There is just a slight charcoal roast flavor from the charcoal firing that is a pleasant but not overwhelming note on the palate. The sweetness in the cup has a honey or brown sugar/caramel taste and the smooth mouth-filling body of this tea is nicely balanced with the underlying elegant taste of the tea leaf.
It is a very full-bodied tea and has slightly higher amino acids than some other yan cha, which provide long-lasting after-taste and an overall soft, rich mouth-feel.
We have found it to be true that the higher the amino acid level in yan cha the more relaxation the tea induces; and if drunk in the evening, the better the quality of sleep that night
This very special Shui Xian is for those who love to drink a smooth, satisfying and delicious ‘dark’ oolong.
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