Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review of two Shui Xian (Wuyi Yancha) from my favorite tea source

lots of  competition details, just in Chinese

Cindy Chen shared some tea samples including two Shui Xian, so I wanted to update how those were.  I wrote a review post about a sample earlier in the year, with some background on the type, so this is really about trying different versions of her teas.  I don't have a website contact for her, but she can be reached on Facebook, just like everyone else.

First, I wanted to mention some news related to that, from awhile back now but not too long ago.  In a competition involving most of the local tea growers, so many that it was a bit of an honor to make the top 50, the initial cut-off, they won first place for Rou Gui and second place for Shui Xian.  Which is unbelievable.

Cindy!  And people judging teas, one set of many

I'd love to research more about how such competitions work, since there was some process whereby lots of people helped judge the hundreds of samples in a tournament style fashion, which would then be narrowed down to a separate judging process for the final places.

But since I've been getting drawn into too many tangents lately I'll just add this picture and move on to talking about some teas.

Shui Xian (2012)

a beautiful tea

Good tea!  The main weakness is that I've been spoiled by Wuyi Yancha that really match my preference lately, some great quality teas, including some from others from Cindy and a better than average local source, so it would be a challenge to just get to that level.

The smell is earthy, a bit sweet, woody, even with a bit of peat.  It's complex enough that someone with a good sense of smell and imagination could just keep going on about the trace aroma elements.

the normal color range; nothing thin about such a tea

The tea brewed to be very nice,  perhaps just a little less complex than the scent hinted at.  Rich earthy flavors stood out, dark wood, a bit of leather, sweetness, subtle so hard to specify if more tied to molasses or brown sugar, which of course are related.  The flavors were rich and smooth and clear.

I missed that strong aromatic component from that last comparison tasting session between a very good Rou Gui (from Cindy) and a Bei Dou (specific Da Hong Pao type, from Jip Eu, that Chinatown shop here).  But then from what I've read those two teas were supposed to exhibit pronounced versions of that aspect.

The level of roast came across as darker medium, not much in the way of char effect but with a profile shifted towards rich earthier flavors.  One might speculate that the char taste element could have been stronger three years ago but how it would transition over that time is not something I can judge just yet.

like tasting tea with monkeys loose in the house

So the tea is good, with the main weakness being comparison.  With nice clean, earthy flavors and consistent brewing across infusions it is a very nice tea.  I'd mentioned before about how tasting the same tea in two different environments, one noisier and one quieter, resulted in a more detailed review in the case when I could focus better, and for this tasting session two little people were absolutely tearing the house apart.

I'd probably have added a few more details about the tea given a half hour of peace and quiet to sort through it, but I'm not sure my general impression would change; definitely an above average tea, perhaps not quite a match for some of the best examples.

Shui Xian (2013)

this is the Shui Xian you were looking for; really, it is

This is the kind of tea Wuyi Yancha lovers hope to run across.   Even the smell gives it away, rich and earthy, sweet, but also with a bit of chocolate and malt.  There are the typical earthy elements, like other Wuyi Yancha, but not quite as far to aromatics and cinnamon as Rou Gui.

Earthy tones blend together in one continuous, nice flavor profile, heaviest on dark woods, and sweet, with a bit of cocoa.  A pleasant and complex aromatic component combines rich mineral elements, volcanic rock, floral tones, and fresh ink.

Descriptive enough, but the experience couldn't come across, unless it's already a familiar one.  Of course it's a soft tea, no astringency in the same sense as many, but with a nice full feel.  Cindy once mentioned that after a few years of experience drinking these teas your mouth could tell you which are really good, and my mouth agrees in regards to this tea.

The flavor stays consistent and very positive across infusions.  In lower quality examples of such teas the sweeter and more aromatic components will fade faster, leaving earthy elements stand out, but this profile stays quite similar after brewing a lot of tea, just thinning a little after many infusions.


  1. I just got 2kg from Cindy, so very excited. I tried her Huang Guanyin yesterday (dove straight into the box) and found it to be very good. Some charcoal roast notes in the first 3 steepings, but that fell off. The honey, melon, sweetness continued through 7 steepings - delicious tea for sure. Will be putting these and the other teas our for customers, plus giving away some to local tea friends to find out their opinions. Will do a post on them too shortly. Thanks for the contact.

  2. I'm glad that you enjoy them and that others can too. I always liked more mid-range versions of Wuyi Yanchas too but the better versions really show of some completely different aspects.

  3. I also introduced a selection of Cindys Wuyi teas in our shop. I am very pleased with the quality of the teas. Huang Guan Yin is really nice and a good starter for beginners while DHP, Shui Xian and Rou Gui are more complex and rather suitable for experienced Wuyi tea aficionados. I also got some Lao Cong Shui Xian and DHP from Cindy. I'll taste it tomorrow with my buddies from the German tea forum.