Okay, while I still have the energy, it’s time to post another previously unposted review from 2021. This one I think came from either late summer or early fall, but I have no way of being certain about that. The Old Tree Shui Xian that Old Ways Tea offers each year is usually great stuff, and this 2018 production was another winner.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, earth, blackberry, black cherry, charcoal, bread, and smoke. After the rinse, aromas of tar, ash, mushroom, and roasted peanut emerged. The first infusion added roasted almond and black raspberry fragrances along with hints of rock sugar. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, charcoal, black cherry, roasted peanut, smoke, ash, and tar that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, blackberry, mushroom, bread, and earth. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of pine, tobacco, minerals, orange zest, and roasted barley to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of roasted almond, mushroom, earth, bread, and blackberry emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, tobacco, pine, cream, butter, orange zest, rock sugar, black raspberry, plum, and roasted barley. Hints of red apple, blueberry, grass, fig, and toasted rice could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, roasted almond, cream, butter, orange zest, and roasted barley that were chased by lingering hints of cinnamon, earth, toasted rice, grass, charcoal, pine, mushroom, roasted peanut, black cherry, and blackberry.
This tea was kind of a typical Old Tree Shui Xian in many ways. It produced a liquor that frequently emphasized sharp mineral texture over aroma or flavor and provided a warming, soothing, subtly invigorating energy. I was a little surprised that it gave out when it did and probably could and should have tried to push it a little harder, but I also kind of appreciated that it did not overstay its welcome. Compared to some of the previous versions offered by Old Ways Tea, this one was very rich and smooth with slightly more pronounced earthy, savory, nutty, vegetal, and roasted characteristics and less fruity and/or floral character. Actually, floral character seemed to be totally absent in this tea, allowing other characteristics to shine through and an even greater emphasis to be placed on the all-important texture of the tea liquor. Though it did not really surprise me in any way, this was a more or less great tea. I have had better Old Tree Shui Xian, but this was still a tremendously enjoyable offering overall.
Flavors: Almond, Ash, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fig, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Toasted Rice, Tobacco