Shan Shui Teas
Popular Teas from Shan Shui TeasSee All 5 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
I was introduced to Shan Shui Teas at the Boulder Tea Festival when I took an Oolong class given by Brian Wright, Importer of the tea’s for this company.
I was delighted to share one of the many tasting tables with Chadao (another Steepster that I met) and 3 other tea lovers.
Each table had a large thermos of boiling water, a Gaiwan, pitcher, discard water pot, and each person had a small aroma cup and tasting cup..
I was offered the Gaiwan to serve (being the oldest) but declined (being the klutz).
Chadao served, then the others through 5 different types of Oolong with three to four steepings of each tea. ( 20 little servings of tea )
This was absolute HEAVEN! I had SUCH A GOOD TIME! There is little else that makes me happy…than picking out the scent and flavor in tea and food. I love it. (Usually noone is around when I go tea crazy!)
The Foshou 2011 Winter Oolong, was my favorite of the tastings.
By the time we arrived at this tasting I was a bit tea high!
There was an old lady at the next table who tried to shush me. I ignored her. She should have been at a book review at the library!
The dry scent was smoky. Wet, the leaves smelled like sticky rice and something else that I didn’t share outloud just yet.
We all were comfortable about sharing what we smelled and tasted by this time. It seemed that all eyes and ears turned to me for opinions on what nuances I was coming up with at each round. Writing on Steepster creates a habit of having opinions I’d say.
When the tea was poured into my aroma cup and I upended the liquid into the tasting cup…I put my nose into it and smelled the tea scent.
I blurted out “POT!” (which I’m sure Old Fart lady heard…sigh…) and everyone at the table shook their heads In unison agreeing that it was exactly the scent of the tea.
I quickly followed with “Well, I lived in the 60’s”…and then…“Oh the scent just changed to sweet pipe tobacco.” (Which it had in the most delicious golden hued way.)
The sweet pipe tobacco scent stayed within the aroma cup throughout the remaining steepings with some muscat grape addition later on.
The flavor of the tea was toasty but light and the liquor pale yellow beige. It began with sticky rice then on the second infusion bosc pear which was faintly sweet..
The third steeping was golden toast colored with a muscat grape flavor and subtle cool hint of mint. There was never any astringency even when the tea cooled down. The mouthfeel was light and smooth, elegant and complex.
The many levels of scent and flavor reminded me so much of a wine I tasted once in Paso Robles. I stood at an oak bar in the winery with the vineyard owner/winemaker and took a drink of a wine that hit my tastbuds with such force that the flavor morphed over and over like tumbling down a flight of stairs…and it shocked me.
The winemaker stood watching my face and smiled. “You know enough”, he said, “You understand.”
That’s what I want. I want to have the ability to catch the clues, to understand.
He was wrong about knowing enough though. That will never happen. I wouldn’t want it to. There would be no fun in discovery which is the delight that I was able to experience in sharing the tasting of this tea with others at the table last weekend.
This is one of the teas I picked up at the start of autumn when I was creating base parameter sets for Korean Green Tea for the Tea app. I really hadn’t been exposed to Korean tea at all before this, though I’d tasted something someone told me was Korean tea. There’s a really good reason to not be familiar with Korean Green tea – there isn’t much, production is constrained to a pretty small area, and there’s much less of a tea culture spread there compared to China or Japan. There are two books I can find dedicated to Korean tea, though, so at least information is out there (though mostly lacking on the internet).
This is a wok-fired and tumble-dried tea with pretty attractive curled leaves with nice consistency and little occurrence of broken bits. This is the very last tiny bit of this tea that I have – only 1g so I broke out my little 60mL gaiwan and used 48-52g of water per infusion, using a scale rather than relying on water depth.
The retailer actually has a good picture for this tea (linked to description on Steepster, but go to www.shanshuiteas.com for a bigger, better one with images of wet leaves and liquor). Glossy little curlycues with even mossy green color.
Wet leaves are slightly yellowed green and incredibly tender. For having two leaves and a bud, the leaves are remarkably tiny and soft.
Liquor is clear, pale yellow. Actually looks like a light cooking oil.
Dry fragrance doesn’t say a lot. Kinda toasty-nutty overall with a whiff of green beans and carnation undertone.
Wet leaf aroma similar to the smell of a lid being lifted off a pot some snap peas were steamed in… Or edamame. Yeah, edamame pops up in my tasting notes for this several times.
Liquor aroma is similar to those soy beans as well.
I brewed four infusions back to back starting with 86C water and letting the temp steadily drop without reheating or refreshing the water. First three infusions I let brew for 2 min and the fourth infusion I let go for 4 min. The flavor, liveliness, and body of the first three infusions are really indistinguishable and the fourth is just a little different.
Very mellow with creamy mouthfeel, grape-like crispness, and very little discernible astringency (pretty darn smooth). Most obvious characteristic is honeysuckle – both the flower and nectar. Both chestnut and water chestnut are prevalent in the overall delicate flavor, lending a toasty but crisp impression. The latter is more obvious in the fourth infusion. Artichoke heart and pollen tend to be obvious flavors when brewed with a tad higher concentration around 3g/100mL but here there is more stir-fried bamboo and much more obvious sweetness. The first three infusions also have a light ginger hint to it, which goes really nicely with the toasty-sweet flavor and soft aroma. Again, edamame makes a pretty good backdrop across the board for the base vegetal flavor these other characteristics come out to play upon.
This was my favorite of the green tea offerings I bought from this company, though the other (more polleny and artichokey) teas were also pretty darn good for mellow teas. As a whole, they were pretty intolerant of hotter water, with a tendency to develop a cottony mouthfeel if brewed too long and back-of-throat astringency presenting with even very short times using temps even around 80C. This one can handle a bit more heat and time, but the best results I got for the group as a whole was using about 3g/100mL with 1 min at 70C for the greatest expression of flavors.
If you are interested in a tea with a toastiness level around a Yunnan “Bi Luo Chun” combined with the mildness of a Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun and some flower-like expressions more typical of Taiwanese light oolongs or white teas, this is an interesting tea to give a try to. Not used to green teas of this delicacy being so consistent across three infusions – let alone lasting for four. In most of my tests of the Shan Shui green tea offerings I got three infusions each unless the first was horribly overbrewed. Pricey, but nice and a new experience.