Source: Zhangping, Fujian province
This medium-roasted oolong is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis var. sinensis "Shuiji Yin" varietal. This tea was produced in 2020.
It's uncommon to find a version of Zhangping Shui Xian that is this roasted; most often, only a light baking is done, as in our Qingxiang Zhangping Shui Xian.
Tea comes packaged in individual servings in (sadly) non-compostable, non-recyclable sealed mylar foil pouches. Each square weighs approximately 9 grams, give or take half a gram.
This tea reminds me a lot of what Anxi Tieguanyin used to taste like before the current practices of shortening the oxidation, putting only the lightest roast on it, and tearing off the stems, resulting in what tea blogger MarshalN coined as "nuclear green" Tieguanyin.
The robust tea base results in strong flavors that start more savory and mineral, with heaps of bright floral notes in the finish, especially as it cools. It has a balanced texture in the mouth, oily at first and slightly astringent later. It has some bitterness that becomes more apparent in later, longer steeps.
This tea brews best with one square per 120-140ml and with just slightly longer steeps. The larger leaves seem to reward the drinker for giving them the extra room. Smaller vessels, brew quickly to avoid excess bitterness, or use water under boiling. This tea also does well when brewed "grandpa style."
This tea was purchased by us in 2021.
More about this tea
Zhangping Shui Xian tea squares were first produced in 1914 by a man named Deng Guanjin. The source leaves come from a clone of a varietal called Shuiji Yin, originally from Shuiji, Jianyang County, Fujian Province, which were introduced to the Zhangping area during the early Republic of China period. Tea has been produced in the area since the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), and as Ming and Qing era Yixing clay teapots unearthed in the area suggest, it remained an important tea-producing region from then to the present day.
Leaf bud sets are picked with one bud and up to three leaves. The tea is withered, basket-shaken three to four times to develop oxidation, heated, kneaded, wrapped, pressed into a mold and roasted. The result is a small compressed square brick of tea, sometimes referred to as "three-color" tea because of the green and golden leaves and stems and the red spots of oxidation, especially on the leaf margins. The leaves undergo a longer withering and shaking process, a kind of marriage between the production methods of Northern Fujian Shui Xian oolong and Southern Fujian Tieguanyin oolong.
The tea is known for having the fragrance of orchids, osmanthus blossoms and daffodils; being gentle on the stomach; a clean refreshing flavor; and sweet aftertaste.