I’m moving on to a more recent sipdown with this review. I’m pretty sure this was either the last tea I finished in July or the first one I finished in August. Those of you who are familiar with my reviews of Wuyi oolongs will realize that I am more than a bit of a Shui Xian nut as I purchase and try tons of different Shui Xian oolongs. Normally, I find it to be a tea that is hard to screw up, though it is certainly possible to get hold of a bad one (there was a Zheng Yan Shui Xian from Yunnan Sourcing a couple years back that still makes me cringe when I think about it). Fortunately, this was not a bad Shui Xian. Old Ways Tea generally does Shui Xian really well, and though this was not the best Shui Xian I have tried from them, it was a very good, solid one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of charcoal, smoke, pine, pomegranate, cinnamon, raisin, cranberry, and dried blueberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of tobacco, black cherry, and strawberry. The first infusion introduced aromas of dark chocolate, orange zest, and black cherry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, charcoal, smoke, rock sugar, cinnamon, raisin, cranberry, pomegranate, and black cherry that were chased by hints of malt, pine, dried blueberry, blackberry, grass, and orange zest. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of grass, rock sugar, roasted peanut, and tar as well as subtler scents of malt, mushroom, and earth. Hints of strawberry, tobacco, and dark chocolate appeared in the mouth alongside stronger notes of grass, orange zest, pine, malt, and blackberry. I also picked up hints of tar, mushroom, and honey as well as stronger impressions of minerals, earth, and roasted peanut. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, earth, cream, charcoal, pine, orange zest, and grass that were underscored by hints of roasted peanut, tar, raisin, rock sugar, butter, pomegranate, mushroom, black cherry, blackberry, and tobacco.

This was a very pleasant Shui Xian that was something of a grower in the sense that I found myself growing fonder of it the more time I spent with it. I was extremely impressed by how balanced its flavors were as well as the pleasant body and texture it displayed. It did fade a little quickly, however, and there were a few moments where I thought it got just a little muddy in the mouth, but aside from those relatively minor gripes, I did not find there to be much wrong with this one. It was definitely a worthwhile Shui Xian overall.

Flavors: Blackberry, Butter, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Strawberry, Sugar, Tar, Tobacco

Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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