China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian "Fruit" Cake Oolong Tea

Tea type
Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea Leaves
Floral, Almond, Apple, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Fruity, Gardenias, Grass, Honey, Pear, Raspberry, Sugar, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood, Milk, Mineral, Orange, Coffee, Nuts, Flowers, Sweet, Toasty, Citrus, Coconut
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Loose Leaf, Sachet
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Edit tea info Last updated by eastkyteaguy
Average preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 15 sec 6 g 39 oz / 1161 ml

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12 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I reviewed Zhang Ping Shui Xian “Orchid” by Dazzle Deer recently, and this looked strikingly similar. I wondered if they were perhaps the same tea, but since I see a Steepster listing for a “China...” Read full tasting note
  • “Hello and Merry Christmas to Steepster celebrators. I haven’t had any holiday-themed teas to drink besides around Thanksgiving with some less than stellar Republic of Tea blends. This one better...” Read full tasting note
  • “As mentioned in my previous review, I actually had two of these Zhangping Shui Xian oolong mini cakes, one from 2016 and the other from 2017. My last review dealt with the 2016 tea, and this one...” Read full tasting note
  • “Used about 1/3 of cake (3g) in small gaiwan that holds about 50ml. 200 degrees, 10 second wash to start. Dry leaves were very fruity with sweet florals. Went 8 infusions (30 sec, 45, 60, 75, 90, 2...” Read full tasting note

From What-Cha

A smooth fruity tasting oolong with subtle floral notes which develop into nuttier tones with subsequent steeps.

Zhangping Shui Xian is the only oolong tea which has traditionally been pressed into a cake, a practice which dates back for well over a century.

Each cake is roughly 7.5g in weight and comes in its own individual packet.

Tasting Notes:
- Smooth texture
- Fruity notes with floral hints which shifts to nut with subsequent steeps

Origin: Zhangping, Fujian, China
Cultivar: Shui Xian
Roast: Light
Sourced: Direct from a factory which specialises only in lightly roasted Zhangping cakes

Brewing Advice:
- Heat water to roughly 95°C/203°F
- Use half a cake per cup/small teapot or one cake for a large teapot.
- Brew for 60-90 seconds

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12 Tasting Notes

1226 tasting notes

I reviewed Zhang Ping Shui Xian “Orchid” by Dazzle Deer recently, and this looked strikingly similar. I wondered if they were perhaps the same tea, but since I see a Steepster listing for a “China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian ‘Floral’ Cake Oolong Tea,” my guess is that one would be the same tea to the one I drank from Dazzle Deer.

So, in hindsight, I sort of wish I’d saved this one for when I had the time for gong fu… I unwrapped the packet, it visually looked the same, and I thought, “This time, I’ll cold brew it!” And that was my mistake. Because unfortunately… it didn’t really work out.

Normally, I have no issues cold brewing oolong, and quite enjoy it that way, but this one had a very hard time expanding in the cold water. Halfway through the cold brew I even “broke up” the cake by gently poking it with a chopstick until all the leaf was free-floating in the water, which was then left to infuse in my ice cold mason jar overnight. In the morning, I was just left with really, really weak tasting tea. Practically water, with a slight hint of florality.

Not sure if it was the age of the oolong, the choice of trying to cold brew, or maybe a combination of both factors, but if I could turn back time, I would hot brew that cake and see what flavors it would have produced.

Ah well. Can’t win them all.

Rating withheld because I feel like this was a “me” problem rather than a “tea” problem.

Flavors: Floral

Iced 8 min or more 9 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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1569 tasting notes

Hello and Merry Christmas to Steepster celebrators.

I haven’t had any holiday-themed teas to drink besides around Thanksgiving with some less than stellar Republic of Tea blends. This one better fits my preferences and is the closest to that Holiday category simply by name alone: ‘___"Fruit" Cake___’. Heh. Thanks for the sample, Togo :)

Autumn 2017 harvest. I used the whole 6.8g cake in a 150mL gaiwan with 200F water. The oolong cake is really a lovely sight with lots of large whole green leaves with splotches and outlines of pink-red-purple oxidation. It almost looks like there are rose petals in the cake. It brews up a pink champagne color. Unfortunately, this beauty does not translate to beauty in taste.

I did longer steeps with this cake, having had some experience with Zhangping Shui Xian oolong cakes before, starting with 30s and subsequent steeps of 60/30/45/60s.

Despite this being a ‘fruit’ cake, the most noticeable fragrance and flavor was gardenia. I’ve never experienced such a clear gardenia expression in a tea before. It was lovely, yes. There were also light tastes of red cherry, banana bread, rose and green apple that were stifled by the gardenia. The aftertaste was one of the strongest butter flavors I’ve ever experienced, mixed with some cream. The liquor was very drying and left an unpleasant starchy feeling in the mouth long after the sip.

The tea still had more to give but the I wasn’t having it, so I cold-brewed the leaves overnight. The resulting liquor this morning is more palatable. The astringency is tamed but the aroma and taste is one-note with that gardenia.

An awfully chunky, lopsided oolong that couldn’t decide which way it wanted to go.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

A “Fruit” cake oolong for Christmas! Perfect! I just wish it was a better tea for you.


Merry Christmas! ♥

Mastress Alita

I like your thinking! I think I may have one of these… maybe I can find the time to squeeze in a gong fu session the last weekend of the month to try it.

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1049 tasting notes

As mentioned in my previous review, I actually had two of these Zhangping Shui Xian oolong mini cakes, one from 2016 and the other from 2017. My last review dealt with the 2016 tea, and this one will deal with the 2017 tea. Of the two, this was a considerably less likable tea.

As with the earlier tea, I brewed the entire mini cake in a 160 ml celadon gaiwan. After a brief rinse in 203 F water, I steeped the cake for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 cake emitted aromas of cream, butter, custard, and gardenia. After the rinse, I noted aromas of grass, wood, and apple. The first infusion brought out aromas of vanilla and cattail shoots. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, butter, custard, wood, and grass that were underscored by hints of apple. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of steamed milk, cinnamon, blueberry, sour cherry, and baked bread. Cattail shoot and vanilla impressions came out in the mouth along with very subtle hints of gardenia and new mineral, cinnamon, steamed milk, pear, sour cherry, and orange notes. I could also occasionally detect subtle hints of blueberry, but they were generally fleeting. The final few infusions mostly offered mineral, cream, butter, orange, and custard notes that were backed by hints of grass, apple, and cattail shoots.

I was not huge on the 2016 version of this tea, and I liked this more recent offering considerably less. It was very bland overall. The flavors were often subtle and did not have much staying power. Also, I had the same complaint with the earlier version of this tea, but I again noted that the tea’s more vegetal characteristics lingered in the mouth after each swallow in a way that struck me as being distinctly unpleasant. That being said, I must also give credit where it is due and remark that I enjoyed this tea’s texture considerably more than the 2016 version. In the end, this struck me as being a stunning example of a truly mediocre tea. If I were to assign a numerical score to it, I would give it a 50 and not think twice about it, but since I cannot grade this version separately, I have decided to average the scores of the two different versions of this tea that I have tried.

Flavors: Apple, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Gardenias, Grass, Milk, Mineral, Orange, Pear, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

8 g 160 OZ / 4731 ML

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38 tasting notes

Used about 1/3 of cake (3g) in small gaiwan that holds about 50ml. 200 degrees, 10 second wash to start. Dry leaves were very fruity with sweet florals. Went 8 infusions (30 sec, 45, 60, 75, 90, 2 min, 2.25 min, 2.5 min). Lovely golden brew that got darker over the steeps. First was very smooth with a creamy mouthfeel and honey sweetness at the front and strong floral finish (but not too perfume-y). Lid of gaiwan after second steep smells just heavenly, creamy floral aroma; taste is sweet flowers – honeysuckle? Starting with third infusion, sweetness gradually recedes, but still pleasant smooth floral; starts tiniest edge of dryness. Lingering milky floral aftertaste becomes more pronounced. Flavor mostly held steady through steeps 4-6. Steeps 7 & 8 began slight flavor loss and mouthfeel on finish was dryer & thinner – but not weak or unpleasant at all. Put spent leaves in 8 oz water to cold brew & try out tomorrow.

Update: those “spent” leaves still had quite a bit of flavor left in them! Cold brew had prominent creamy florals, refreshing & pleasant

Update #2: Tried the remaining cake (~6g or so) in 10 oz just-off-boiling water for 2 minutes. Aroma is strong & lovely, much more honey giving way to floral. Color is honey, too. Flavor is nice; at first I feared it was weaker & less complex than in gaiwan, but it’s actually just a different experience – maybe “gentle” is a better word. Brew is lightly sweet at first, then gives way to very smooth, slightly milky, lingering honeysuckle floral, but not quite as strong as in gaiwan. Definitely picking up notes of fruit this way that probably were overpowered with gongfu – hints of mild white peach or perhaps Asian pear. (Prepared this way, reminds me very much of the “Snow Pear Oolong” from Silk Road Teas I tried at a restaurant.) Second steep (8 oz water, 2.5 minutes) brews up a little darker & aroma is less floral. Flavor has much less floral, though smooth honeysuckle is still there in the lingering aftertaste. Hint of dryness creeping into aftertaste as well. Overall very nice. While gaiwan preparation was lovely, I think I prefer it this way – should have followed the package instructions to start with!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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965 tasting notes

This is a very temperamental tea, as others have pointed out as well. Finding the right brewing parameters is a challenge. This time I used half a cake (about 4g) in a 180ml clay teapot to retain the heat. I did 4 infusions with progressively extended times. First one started at about 1.5 minutes, which was a little too short in retrospect given that I didn’t do a wash.

The tea started off very light-bodied and thin. I only got a vague grassy and fruity notes and constrictive, milky mouthfeel. Later infusions fared bettter, but still I would say the tea was fairly light tasting and thin, especially the second one. The mouthfeel did become more coating and somewhat powdery though. I got a mix of fruity notes like banana & pear and vegetal/grassy ones. The aftertaste was quite long, fragrant and cooling, with a touch of coffee bitterness. It also induces a burning sensation in the throat. I enjoyed the aftertaste a lot. In the last, fourth infusion, the taste changed again, displaying more of its nutty side.

Not a bad tea at all once it gets going, but I have a feeling the price is a little too high for what it has to offer.

Flavors: Coffee, Fruity, Grass, Nuts, Pear

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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15960 tasting notes

Decided to do a late night Gong Fu session after we got back from the restaurant; I don’t work tomorrow and we’ve already celebrated our Christmas so there’s no reason I can’t stay up late tonight and sleep in tomorrow.

I’m doing the whole cake of this one; just broken up into a few smaller chunks. It’s very loosely compressed, so it was really easy for me to break it up. I ordered a couple of these a while ago to experiment with and am only just now getting to them – I couldn’t resist the thematic tie in of having a ‘fruit cake’ for Christmas. Visually, the ‘cake’ is stunning though! Large leaf pieces, and a wide range of colours! Plus, when I cracked open the vacuum sealed packaging, I was hit with the most lovely aroma! Very sweet, with bright notes of overly ripe cherries and peaches. So many people have described this one as tasting like banana though, so I’m fascinated to see if I get that too.

No rinse – going straight into this one!

Steep One – Ten Seconds
- Sweet and fruity; but not too much overall body right off the bat
- Cherry jumps to mind; but almost more of like a candied/cocktail cherry
- A bit floral, quite green

Steep Two – Ten Seconds
- More of an equal mix of flavour; cherry, floral (jasmine/peony), and sweet grass
- Underlying notes of coconut?
- Just a touch of astringency along my inner cheeks; pleasantly so at this point

Steep Three – Fifteen Seconds
- A little bit of a grassy sharp/sour quality in the top sip
- I suppose it’s a LITTLE BIT like under ripe banana?
- Still getting that sweet floral and cherry sort of thing though
- And a very creamy sort of soup in so far as mouthfeel
- Though unlike other reviewers I wouldn’t say it TASTES creamy???

Steep Four – Fifteen Seconds
- Cherry, jasmine, grass, coconut, butter???
- Hints of under ripe banana still
- Same astringency
- Maybe this buttery quality mixed w. the coconut it’s what being called “creamy/milky”

Steep Five -Twenty Seconds
- About the same as above
- Worth pointing out that this has still been quite light throughout
- No real “punchy” flavours at all
- Also, I know this is ‘light’ roasted but it doesn’t much taste roasted to me at all

Steep Five – Thirty Seconds
- No astringency in this sip at all
- Mostly a sweet, generic fruity sort of quality; a little flatter than previous steeps
- I might start stacking steeps now???
- There’s been no mind blowing flavour progression so I don’t see why not

Steep Six/Seven – Forty Seconds (each)
- Generic fruity/floral mix of typical greener oolong notes
- Very smooth, unimposing flavours
- Missing the more distinct cherry/coconut though
- Kind of banana leaf like???
- Would be nice to drink whilst doing something else; like studying/cooking/etc.

Steep Eight/Nine – One Minute (each)
- Wow, ok this one is so close to just tasting like water…
- Slightly sweeter, kind of floral water…
- Yeah; calling this one done now I think

Ok, so thoughts overall:

I’m a little bit let down by this one in a few ways? For starters, the dry aroma was so beautiful and enticing, and those first few steeps seemed actually really promising but there’s absolutely no staying power to this tea – you get that very slight bump in flavour within the first three to four steeps and then it essentially flat lines? The rest is kind of my own fault for reading reviews before hand and kind of expecting certain flavours from the tea based on those reviews: some were there, but others were super absent and the ones that were present weren’t to the degree I’d let myself expect that they would be.

Positive notes – this was ultimately a very smooth session, if not a little boring, so I think this would be an excellent candidate for something to steep relatively mindlessly whilst doing something else. Plus, since it was a somewhat short lived tea/didn’t have a whole lot of staying power I think it’d work for times when you want to get that Gong Fu session in without making a commitment to like fifteen+ infusions.

And ultimately, there wasn’t anything ghastly/unpleasant about this tea; it was just kind of boring. Totally better than the fruit cakes I usually find myself presented with this time of year, though!

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7 tasting notes

Nice smooth taste. Fruity. Hints of banana.

Flavors: Fruity

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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1707 tasting notes

I’ve been waiting a while to review this because this was the more tricky oolong to brew out of all the ones I had from What-Cha, and I swear the leaves got weaker over time. Feel free to correct me, Alistair.

I cut the cake in half the first time starting off gong fu with steeps of 45 sec and up. I got something that was certainly similar to a Dong Ding with a banana walnut thing going into each steep. I thought it was interesting that the other two reviews mentioned coconut and cherry. I definitely got the coconut in the smooth texture, and a little bit of cherry in the aftertaste, but those flavors were not the pronounced to me. The tea was on the light side, but it had a pronounced light orange color and yielded about six cups.

I kept on experimenting with it, and the results were not what I expected. I brewed a whole cake in a Gaiwan and then in a much larger pot, and both times, the tea tasted and smelled far different from how I had it before. I got a drying walnut skin mouth feel and a weird charred up banana in the aftertaste-but even then, the brew felt more like water with a slight difference.

I tried a third of the cake, and the brew was weak with little water gong fu and even western in the gaiwan. As for tumblering it, I only got a weird subtle plantain taste amidst texture water.Sometimes, I felt like I was drinking warm milk. After all this, I decided that the only ways this tea works is through Alistair’s instructions of 1/2 cake for 1-2 minutes or 1/2 cake western just under boiling in an 8 ounce cup for two minutes. I get the subtle fruit flavors I like that way, but again, the fruit notes along with any previous florals have slowly dissipated. The flavors also dissipate quickly as it cools down.

Though I was extremely critical of this tea (I do not think I’ve given to a 80 to What-Cha’s oolongs EVER), it was a good oolong anyway. The roast allowed for the tea to not have the vegetal spinach taste that so many green oolongs are apt to, and it did have some very unique subtle fruit notes that you can find in a few other oolongs.


It can be a bit of a challenge to get the brewing just right and the best brewing parameters are largely down to one’s own preference.

Going heavy on the leaf (one wehole cake) and using a small gaiwan or long western brew with a quick rinse first, can amp up the fruity roasted notes giving more of a dong ding like taste. Shorter steeps with less leaf, lean more towards the light floral, more akin to a high mountain Taiwanese oolong.

Part of the brewing difficulty is the variability of the cake size (variation can be as much as 2.5g) coupled with the compressed nature of the leaves, means it’s very hard to keep brewing parameters fixed.

Daylon R Thomas

2.5 grams of difference? Dang.

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836 tasting notes

Winter 2016 tea

Dry leaf has a distinct floral aroma- maybe lily flower if I had to choose. Half of a cake used.

Brewed tea has an aroma of ripe bananas with a bit of a malty tone which reminds me of banana bread. The brewed tea flavour reminds me of toasted bananas. Medium-thick mouthfeel and sweet on the finish. Toasted floral notes in the background.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Flowers, Sweet, Toasty

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 15 OZ / 450 ML

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11 tasting notes

I got one of this as a sample from What-cha, and I’m glad I got it because, man, isn’t this tea interesting!
The shape was pretty cool to begin with, and the tea had a lot of different colored leaves, so it was really nice to look at. The leaves smelled really, really fruity, like strong cherry and it had also a lot of creamyness to it. Sadly, the fruity smell left the leaves in like two steeps, leaving it only in milk.
Anyway, the flavor was very interesting too, the taste was fruity and mostly milky, getting nutty with a bit of coconut later. The liquor was very dry. In the end, the tea was just citrus and very thick.
Since this is very green, it’s not very forgiving, so a couple of times I got a bit of bitterness out of it.

Flavors: Cherry, Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Fruity, Nuts

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 tsp 120 OZ / 3548 ML

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