When I first learned about this tea, I was instantly intrigued. I just had to try some. The name and lore behind the tea was so different. So, when I visited Tea Trekker a few weeks ago, this oolong was the first on my list. I’ve had it a few times so far gong fu style, experimenting with the amount of leaves. About 3.5 to 4 grams in a 100ml gaiwan seems to grant the best results.
The leaves give off a scent of fresh hay and minerals, with a very subtle dried fruit aroma when dry, and a fresh and clean organic green scent with hints of flowers and what I finally came to describe as a sweet, mossy smell when wet. First inhaling the dried leaves, I didn’t think I was going to get any floral qualities at all from this tea. I was almost correct. This tea is certainly not like a tieguanyin with its intensely floral qualities, although it does possess some. No, what Mao Xie brings to the cup is something I can only describe as “briney.” Now, I may be getting carried away by the name of “hairy crab,” but I think this is a perfect example of the influence of terroir on taste. Mao Xie is grown on the Fujian Province’s coast throughout a long growing season, which probably has something to do with the slight mineral taste that blends oh so well with the relaxed floral tones and and humble sweetness that sometimes reminds me of saltwater taffy. Whenever I drink this tea, images of the beach and ocean mist always waft through my mind. Upon cooling though, the liquor does assume a thicker, salty/sour taste that can be somewhat unpalatable, but this is probably my only real complaint.
The liquor has a nice golden-green color and a soft, medium body. After a sip, the flavor rolls through the mouth in small, long waves. There isn’t really any “burst” of flavor, but with this tea there doesn’t need to be. It’s strength is that it has depth of flavor (instead of strong flavors) which spreads wide, lingers pleasantly, and fades slowly. Definitely a unique tea.