This was one of my most recent sipdowns as I finished what I had of this tea on Saturday night. Prior to this, my experiences with Lao Cong Shui Xian had been hit or miss. I recall trying one from Yunnan Sourcing earlier in the year that was just plain not very good. Fortunately, this one was excellent. It provided me with further proof that some of the Banyan teas can provide drinking experiences that rival or exceed some of the more revered Zhengyan teas.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of char, pine, cedar, blackberry, cinnamon, and black cherry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of smoke, roasted almond, and mushroom. The first infusion introduced blueberry and rock sugar scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, mushroom, blackberry, cinnamon, smoke, black cherry, and char that were chased by notes of blueberry, cream, and rock sugar as well as some subtle, indistinct vegetal hints. The subsequent infusions introduced roasted peanut, citrus, orchid, grass, and cannabis aromas. Stronger rock sugar and cream notes came out in the mouth along with new impressions of minerals, cannabis, caramel, grass, orange zest, lemon zest, and roasted peanut. There were even some very subtle hints of wildflower honey here and there. These infusions also introduced a smooth, cooling herbal impression that lingered in the mouth after each swallow; it reminded me of tobacco. The final few infusions emphasized lingering mineral, cream, pine, mushroom, and roasted nut notes. Fleeting hints of rock sugar, honey, black cherry, grass, and cannabis were just present enough to provide some satisfying depth and complexity.

I know I have most likely said it several times in the past, but I am a huge fan of Wuyi Shui Xian. I often find it to be a very approachable, soothing, and comforting tea, and fortunately for me, its widespread cultivation and popularity make it easy and relatively cheap to obtain. It is also a very versatile and resilient tea, working equally well on its own or in blends. In the past, I have heard it described as a gateway or doorkeeper yancha, and I have finally come to understand why that is. Since it is so readily available, it makes both a reliable daily drinker and a perfect introduction to Wuyi oolongs. A good Wuyi Shui Xian will let you know immediately if yancha is going to be for you, and it will also be a tea you can come back to repeatedly over time. For me, this tea was a near perfect Shui Xian at an acceptable price. It reminded me why I not only love the Shui Xian cultivar, but also Wuyi yancha, so much. If I had bought a larger quantity to begin with, I would return to this tea time and time again.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cannabis, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Grass, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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