This was another of my sample sipdowns from early in the year. It is also a tea that I did not really know anything about prior to drinking it. I still don’t know anything about it other than it was the 2019 version of the traditional Shui Xian that Old Ways Tea seems to stock every year. In truth, I was not expecting much, but as it turned out, this was a great offering. It was not as durable as some of Old Ways Tea’s specialized or higher end Shui Xian, but it offered tremendously enjoyable aromas, flavors, and texture.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 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 emitted aromas of cinnamon, pine, charcoal, blackberry, and black cherry. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, smoke, baked bread, and rock sugar. The first infusion introduced a pomegranate aroma underscored by subtler grass and cannabis scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, smoke, charcoal, roasted almond, grass, blackberry, and black cherry that were chased by subtler flavors of tobacco, nutmeg, baked bread, roasted peanut, and pomegranate. The bulk of the subsequent infusions gradually added new aromas of dark chocolate, plum, tobacco, and red grape. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of tobacco, roasted peanut, and baked bread appeared in the mouth alongside fresh notes of minerals, red grape, orchid, caramel, rock sugar, plum, earth, black currant, orange zest, and violet. Hints of black raspberry, dark chocolate, peach, and cannabis could also be detected here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, baked bread, caramel, roasted almond, black cherry, grass, tobacco, pine, and red grape that were balanced by lingering hints of earth, roasted peanut, charcoal, blackberry, orange zest, black raspberry, black currant, and dark chocolate.
For a standard Shui Xian, this was very interesting. It was very heavy on dark fruit flavors, possessing a more pronounced sweetness than I would generally expect of a tea of this type. There were also one or two truly unique notes in this tea. In particular, that lovely violet flavor that was so noticeable in some of the middle infusions was really something special and unexpected. Despite its lack of durability and refinement compared to some of Old Ways Tea’s higher end Shui Xian offerings, this one was a winner. I now kind of wish I had bought more.
Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Bread, Cannabis, Caramel, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Pomegranate, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco, Violet