Another of the famous Anxi Oolong tea cultivars, this tea is known as Mao Xie or “Hairy Crab” oolong in English. Mao Xie got its name from the physical attributes of the leaves. The edges of the leaves are serrated and pointy like a crab’s claws and tend to be covered with fuzzy “hairs,” so the name became Hairy Crab.
Although they are closely related, the real difference between Tie Guan Yin, Huang Jin Gui, Ben Shan, or Mao Xie Oolongs is botanical. Each of these teas are all distinct sub-species of Camellia Sinensis which come from Anxi county in Fujian Province. Each of the sub-categories of Anxi Camellia Sinensis plants (cultivars) have their own physical characteristics and flavor profiles.
The flavor of this tea is typical of a lightly oxidized “Green” style Anxi oolong, in that it can be described as floral and slightly fruity. Fans of Tie Guan Yin or Huang Jin Gui will definitely enjoy this one. The main difference to my palate is the more aggressive background note which has proven itself quite difficult to describe…it’s not bitter, it’s not really tannic, and it’s not exactly astringent, so I am going with “aggressive” for lack of a better term. This particular batch of Mao Xie has a nice “Hui Gan” (sweet aftertaste) that lingers for just a little while with elements of this aggressive flavor that I can’t seem to describe properly.
The infused liquor is a lovely green color, and you will probably notice some of the fuzzy hairs floating on the surface of your cup. I strongly recommend brewing this tea Gong Fu style in a Gaiwan or Yixing-type teapot…for some reason, this tea just doesn’t reveal itself as the awesome tea that it really is when steeped Western style in a big teapot with a higher water to leaf ratio.