drank Shui Hsein by The Tea Smith
1199 tasting notes

Sampler Sunday! This is the last oolong I had left from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all who participated! I’ve never tried this kind of oolong before and have no idea how old this tea may be by now so take my impression with a grain of salt.

Decided to try to make the time for a gong fu session this morning, which I am also no expert in. I did split the leaf in my sample to use a smaller amount of water in the session since I don’t like how water-heavy/full I get over so many infusions, and then I’d still have enough leaf to compare with a western infusion as well.

3.45g / 70ml (in a 100ml capacity shiboridashi) / 208F / Rinse|20s|25s|30s|40s|50s|60s|75s|90s|120s

I took the tea through nine infusions, though the flavor was noticably starting to fade by the seventh infusion, and the eighth and ninth infusions were very weak. The wet leaf had a toasty aroma that after the first infusion reminded me of a savory stirfry, notibly with cashew and water chestnut aroma. After the last aroma the wet leaf had a more smoky aroma, and also smelled of raisins.

The first two infusions had a very roasty, nutty aroma, but also a lot of sweetness. The flavor was very pleasant, reminding me a lot of houjicha; it tasted of roasted nuts, had a slightly sweet honey note, and had very subtle undertones of minerals/wet rocks and smoke. I was worried it was going to be another smoke bomb like the last oolong I tried, but nope! There is a tanginess that is left on the back of the tongue which I personally quite like. I get a bitter nut (like walnuts) paired with a honey roast vibe. By the third/fourth infusion a lot of woodiness was coming through, and by the fourth infusion through to the end of the session, the sweetness dissipated and the nuttiness was paired more with a mineral/wet rock flavor, with the subtle smoky aftertaste becoming slightly more noticable. I also started getting a slight vegetable taste of wet water chestnuts which became stronger in later steeps. The tangy feeling on the tongue was completely gone by mid-session to late session, only apparent in the first few infusions. There was a very light pepperiness in the last few infusions as the flavor was fading away.

I brewed my western cup with 3g in 350ml with 208F water for 3 minutes. The western cup was quite nice, with a nice toasty, roasted nut flavor and a mineral note toward the end of the sip, with a very subtle touch of smokiness. The sweeter honeyed notes from earlier steeps in the gong fu session and the stronger woody and vegetal water chestnut notes seemed to be the most lacking in the western cuppa. It was very smooth and lacked the tangy component on the back of the tongue I got in the early steeps of my gong fu session as well.

Since I’m a fan of houjicha and this reminded me in a lot of ways of the flavor notes of that tea, I am definitely interested in exploring this type of oolong more.

Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Pepper, Roasted Nuts, Smoke, Smooth, Tangy, Toasty, Vegetal, Walnut, Wet Rocks, Wood

Boiling 3 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud genderqueer asexual (she/they) and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Hemp/CBD teas
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am open to tea trades (within the United States only!) at this time. Note that I will not trade teas that I currently have in a quantity less than 50g (samplers, 1oz packages, etc.) or any teas that are currently still sealed/unopened in my cupboard.

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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