Wuyi Shan Shui Hsien

wuyi shan shui hsien - dry leaves

When it comes to the subject of Oolongs, this is the kind of tea that I simply adore – a well roasted strip Oolong from the famous Wuyi Shan mountain area in Fujian Province on the Chinese mainland.

This was yet another purchase I made whilst perusing the website of House of Tea. I paid 119 Swedish Crowns (US$13.22, €11.97, £10.69) for a 50 gram packet.

The hand-plucked tea is of the Shui Hsien (“Water Sprite“) cultivar, and was grown at an altitude of 600 metres. This particular batch was harvested in the spring of 2014, and then underwent a traditional roasting process over charcoal.

As you might expect I began by steeping the tea gong-fu style, using abut 5/6 grams in a 150 ml gaiwan.

Water was at about 95°C. As always with an Oolong, before the first infusion proper I did a quick rinse, using the rinse water to clean, warm, and prime the teaware.

To wake the leaves up the first infusion was a 10 second one, with each subsequent steeping five seconds longer than the last.

These leaves had good legs – they managed 9 infusions before they were done.

The tea liquor had a lovely, buttery, thick mouth feel. The usual Oolong honey-roast sweetness was there, as well as a delicate floral note, that to my botanically challenged nose suggested rose.

There was also a background astringency going on, quite reminiscent of a black/red tea, which was refreshing and an interesting contrast to the sweetness and fine aromas somehow.

a cup of wuyi shan shui hsien

All well and good, but

Maybe it’s because this tea made its way into my tea stash at a time when it was competing for my attention with some really great teas – I’m thinking of the Anji Bai Cha, or the Shan Cha and Huo Shan Huang Ya in particular – but as good as this tea is, in my first few sessions with it I kept thinking that I had missed something.

This might be because of the weight of expectation that comes with the name Wuyi Shan. Maybe I hear that name and automatically expect fireworks.

After some experimentation I’ve finally found a niche for this tea in my daily tea drinking routine. First thing on a morning, I take a good couple of pinches, and drop them into my 300 ml lidded Chinese tea mug‘s filter insert.

Using a kind of half-grandpa method I like to call Great Uncle style, I pull the filter out after 40 seconds or so. Experience has shown that when steeping them this way the leaves will still be good for a second (50 seconds), third (1 minute), and even a fourth (1 minute 10 seconds) round.

wuyi shan shui hsien - used leaves

So, that’s this tea in a nutshell – not great, but still very good. There should always be a place in any tea lover’s collection for teas like this – solid, dependable, good quality everyday drinkers.

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