I have a spread of 4 Shui Xian rock oolong teas from Old Ways Tea that I’ve been working my way through since the past few mornings have left the town blanketed all day in a breezy and chilly coastal fog. The weather became more like winter and as said in my last review, an almost out of season rainstorm blew in last night.

Here we go. This yancha has an understated power. My body feels full after drinking it, like everything under my skin is pushing outward. Much more caffeine than the 2017 Shui Xian from OWT but not jittery in its effect.

The dry leaf was incredibly fragrant with marshmallow, vanilla, strawberry, citrus, dark chocolate and almond. It smelled like dessert! A strong, sweet and creamy cocoa with a high note white floral came out above a fruity strawberry base after warming the leaf. I drank the rinse of this one and I’m glad I did. It was already incredibly mineral with a thick body, like a cross between maple syrup and congee. The aroma and taste, underneath a tongue-electrifying minerality, was all sweet and floral cinnamon mixed with cloves in melted chocolate and of course some yancha woodiness. Very much like a floral-vanilla Mexican hot chocolate. I’d say the minerality was more pronounced than the flavors on the tongue, but the tea presented a long-lasting finish and lingering retronasal florals. A sourness like very dark chocolate hung around in the back of the mouth. Plenty of salivation to balance the light astringency. Warming and cooling at the same time, camphoresque in the throat and chest, leaving both with a full feeling.

Later the thick liquor moved from syrupy-porridge to glassy while almond, marshmallow, butter, orange blossom, fresh grass and coffee came forward in the mouth. The long finish showed no signs of giving up. Orange zest like feeling on the tongue. I lost track of steeps… great longevity.

A western preparation of 2g, 8oz, 212F yielded 2 infusions with a great balance between floral, nutty, woody, chocolate, mineral and vanilla marshmallow characteristics.

Super tea, masterfully roasted. I feel that, compared to eastkyteaguy’s review over 9 months ago, some more resting time has allowed this tea to shine. Too bad its gonegonegone.

[6g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 212F, rinse (drank) followed by 12+ infusions starting at 7s]

Flavors: Almond, Camphor, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Cocoa, Coffee, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Vanilla, Wood

Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” I also picked up 2 older plants from a a local nursery. They were grown from seed supposedly acquired from a tea farm in Washington. To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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