This ‘high mountain old bush’ Shui Xian is a subtle and refined rock oolong. My impression after drinking it is of horchata, like if you took the essences of fresh rice milk, floral-woody cinnamon, floral-sweet vanilla and sugar then combined those with the characteristic minerality of yancha in a spring water-like body, you’d almost have this tea.

I say almost because there is also a prominent orchid florality, a note of dry-roasted almonds skins, some delicate berry tones, and a hint of custard. A feeling of wet moss and mushrooms.

The tea feels good, smells spectacular and drinks with ease. A lingering vanilla-orchid aftertaste completes the experience.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Berry, Cinnamon, Custard, Drying, Floral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orchid, Perfume, Rice, Roasted Nuts, Spring Water, Sugar, Sweet, Vanilla, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks, Wood

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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.” 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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