It is finally time to get the last of the Zhangping Shui Xian mini cake reviews posted. I had one each of the 2016 and 2017 “Premium Floral” Cakes, consuming them in back-to-back gongfu sessions at the end of last week. I found both to be very good, definitely a few steps above the regular Zhangping Shui Xian “Floral” Cakes offered by What-Cha. Just to be clear, this review will specifically detail my experience with the 2016 cake. I will review the 2017 cake in a separate review at a later date.

As mentioned in the paragraph above, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I plopped the whole cake into my 160 ml celadon gaiwan, rinsed it in 203 F water for about 10 seconds, and then steeped it for 10 seconds to start. This initial infusion was then followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry mini cake emitted aromas of cream, butter, custard, honeysuckle, and gardenia. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of steamed milk, sugarcane, grass, and vanilla. The first infusion brought out subtle orange blossom scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, and grass that were chased by hints of sugarcane, orange blossom, tart cherry, and gardenia. The subsequent infusions brought out mineral, cinnamon, baked bread, mushroom, and almond aromas. Notes of steamed milk, custard, vanilla, and honeysuckle came out in the mouth along with new notes of minerals, coconut, almond, apple, orange zest, pear, mushroom, cattail shoots, and baked bread. The previously mentioned impressions of grass and tart cherry grew a little stronger as well. By the end of the session, I was just able to pick up on lingering mineral, cattail shoot, grass, tart cherry, orange zest, and butter notes that were underscored by fleeting hints of cream, baked bread, pear, apple, vanilla, and sugarcane.

Much like the other Zhangping Shui Xian mini cakes sourced by What-Cha, this was a subtle and delicate tea that often emphasized body and texture over aroma and flavor. Unlike those other teas, this one was more consistent in terms of body and texture, and the aromas and flavors present were a little more prominent and were layered in a more appealing and sophisticated fashion. Honestly, this blew the other Zhangping Shui Xian mini cakes out of the water, but I also doubt that I would have appreciated this one as much had I not taken the time to try the others.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Bread, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coconut, Cream, Custard, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Milk, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal

8 g 5 OZ / 160 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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