Part V of X in a series on classic teas you need to taste
Origin: Wuyi, Fujian China
Harvest: Winter harvests occur, but many are Spring (April – May)
• Dark brown with rust red, twisted and wrinkled leaves
• Heavy toasted aroma
• Toasted aroma remains
• Dark red stems and veins with dark brown leaves
• Deep rust red color
• Smoky aftertaste remains, converting to a sweet aftertaste
• Peach nectar and smoky burnt aromas
• Light brothiness
Due to the age and style of growth, these Wuyi teas are come from old-growth trees. Pluckers need ladders for harvest. If this didn’t make things difficult enough, teas from this area are named “cliff” teas. They may not require monkeys for harvest, but the claims of the teas’ high mineral content from the rocky soil remains.
The higher one ascends the quality scale of shui xians, the less bitterness the teas tend to become. However, some still prefer a little “bite” to their teas.
In addition, you will want to determine the level at which these teas are roasted. A lighter roasted has less lasting taste and aroma, while a more heavily roasted tends to mature with age.
Traditionalists still insist shui xian and other “rock” or cliff wulongs are best prepared in a gaiwan. The preferred method is to use water at or near full-boil. Often there is enough dry leaf in the gaiwan that after the first steep, the wet leaves fill the gaiwan to the brim. Steepings are often briefer (less than one minute), but allow you to savor several repeated servings.
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