This shuixian was a surprise find from a tea merchant I hadn't previously encountered, despite having lived and worked very close by for ten years. TeaLife has made me branch out and explore tea stores I otherwise wouldn't have purchased tea from as I was used to my usual teas from my usual suppliers. This store had a surprising number of good Yixing pots, but at sky high prices. Their tea, however, seemed to be fairly priced, and I got a 80s-90s Yixing Factory 1 lidded mug for what I felt was a reasonable price. Merchants down here realize the Mainland Chinese want older Yixing pots, and have raised their prices on their teapots accordingly!
Since I'd purchased a lot of different pu erhs and dahongpaos a week earlier, I decided to see what they had in the way of shuixian. I was offered a regular grade, and old bush shuixian. Old bush shuixian is of course sold at a premium because of the scarcity of good old bush material and the strong market demand for good shuixian. I examined and smelled the tea and it seemed to be a good quality tea (the proof is in the pot, of course). I asked about the age, and the dealer said the tea was from 1995. Many of the older dealers here have excellent teas left in their stores and warehouses for decades. I purchased a single tael to sample.
Let's just say I'm glad I did. This is my favorite shuixian right now. From the first infusion, I knew I had something special!
After the rinse (picture two), I got plum-like aged notes from the shuixian. Warm and inviting. This plum-like character carried over into the first infusion, and the tea was pleasantly bitter with excellent huigan (returning sweetness after the swallow). All hallmarks of a good aged Wuyicha.
The second infusion (considered by many to be the best) had the same plum notes, along with raisin and even Concord grape flavors. Delicious. The returning sweetness persisted, and the flavor lingered on the palate. Again, this tea exhibited no flaws at all--just an excellent aged shuixian.
By infusion four, I noticed there were mineral notes present, but they were subtle and took a back seat to the lovely flavor of the leaves. This is a shuixian I could drink every day.
This shuixian went seven infusions, and the huigan persisted, along with the delicious plum flavor. I had to stop the session after seven infusions as I couldn't handle anymore tea, but it's possible that you could get eight or nine good infusions from these leaves. Durability in the gaiwan or pot is another measure of a quality tea, and this tea proved itself in every way.
After seven infusions, the size and quality of the leaves are very apparent. The leaves were beautifully processed and stored and it is evident from the first sip to the last. The roast was done just right and compliments and evokes the natural flavor of the leaves perfectly.
This is an excellent example of an aged old bush shuixian, and this is my current favorite. I highly recommend this tea and suggest you try it if you like good Wuyicha!
My brewing suggestions for this tea are to fill a preheated teapot or gaiwan to 50-75% full of dry leaf. Rinse with water off the boil. Each infusion should be made with water at full boil. I start with infusions of 20-40 seconds and increase the length of each infusion by 10-20 seconds per infusion from there.
Please note: most traditional Hong Kong tea merchants do not offer discounts on volume until I am purchasing several kilograms at a time, and in some cases, no discounts are offered at all, even for ten kilos of a single tea or more. For this reason, I cannot offer a discount on larger purchases of this tea at this time.