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Top Shelf Pewter-Stored 1995-1996 High Roast Shui Jin Gui (15g)

Top Shelf Pewter-Stored 1995-1996 High Roast Shui Jin Gui (15g)

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This is an excellent high roast shui jin gui from a Hong Kong family which has been in the tea business for around seventy years!

This is the best quality aged high roast shui jin gui I have ever had. The vendor states this tea is from 1995-1996, but this tea still has a great deal of complexity to it and has not developed the aged taste typical of an oolong that had been stored sealed for twenty years, since this tea has definitely been re-roasted several times to drive off Hong Kong's intense humidity. The quality of the base material, however, is outstanding. The flavor of the roast has dissipated for the most part since the last roast. This tea definitely appears to have some age to it, as the aroma of the dry leaf is mellow, and the tea has calming cha qi. This is absolutely exceptional aged Wuyicha and very smooth on the swallow, which is a distinguishing factor of a top quality Chinese tea. The best teas are balanced and never flawed in any way, and this tea absolutely fits the bill.

I know I offer a lot of different high roast Wuyicha. High roast oolongs have long been some of the most popular teas in Hong Kong. I am very fond of the flavor profile of Hong Kong cliff tea. The classic high roast oolongs offered in HK are still produced in a manner that appeals to older Hongkongers, who grew up drinking this type of tea. I have yet to encounter a high roast shuixian of the quality available here in Hong Kong on the Mainland Chinese market. There is strong demand for Hong Kong teas in China, as they are perceived to be of better quality, and they sell for a significant premium there. Buying tea in China can be quite the minefield, but many Hong Kong tea companies have been around for generations and sell wonderful tea, since they have a reputation to uphold. I believe these merchants' longstanding connections with generations of farmers and roasters on the Mainland mean Hong Kong companies continue to get the best of China's tea production, as they have for over a century.

This tea is not quite as highly roasted as my other offerings, but is still much higher roasted than is typical of modern Wuyicha. In my experience, what other vendors call high roast Wuyicha today is medium roast at most, or low grade tea that is roasted until there is no character left to the tea: just roast. This tea was made with exceptional base material and the roast was very well done, as much of the unique character and terroir has been preserved while offering the familiarity and flavor profile of a high roast tea, which the older generation of Hongkongers expect. The fact this tea has weathered the years so well and still has such a surprising amount of pleasure to give is a testament to the quality of the material that was once so readily available before China's economic boom.

The dry and wet leaf is lighter in color than the shuixians I offer, due to the slightly lower roast level.

In the first infusion of this tea, I get interesting notes of date, Chinese medicine (ginseng and other roots) and warm black tea. This tea is very smooth on the palate and the swallow, as all good aged oolongs should be. This tea also has powerful cha qi, which is something I always welcome, and expect, especially from premium old tree pu erh and aged oolong teas. 

This tea has great longevity--the flavor is consistent from infusion to infusion. I find five infusions to be the sweet spot with this tea, as the sixth was very mild. The pleasant Chinese medicine and soft date flavor is still clean and clear in the fifth infusion, and there is a sweet aroma in the cup. Interestingly, the calming cha qi persists through each infusion, even in the less flavorful sixth infusion. The cha qi and flavor persistence are strong indicators of quality base material, as are the smoothness of this tea and the complexity of the flavor, as well as the sheer pleasure I get from drinking this tea in gongfu sessions. This tea is also extremely hunger inducing for me, so be prepared!

This is a high roast shui jin gui for those who would like to experience a truly exceptional aged example of this Wuyi oolong.

Brewing suggestion:

I never weigh high fire Wuyicha. I fill my preheated pot (almost always a shuiping) halfway or three-quarters of the way up with dry leaf. I flash rinse with water off the boil, and reserve the rinse for pouring over my pot. If you're using a porcelain pot or gaiwan, or prefer not to pour tea over your Yixing teapots, you can ignore this step.

My first infusion is usually 10-20 seconds long and I use water at full rolling boil. I wait for the tea I pour over the pot to evaporate from the surface of the pot to time my first two infusions. Each subsequent infusion is longer; my third infusion is often around 40 seconds long. With tea of this quality, I try to squeeze out every bit of goodness as this tea is of a much higher quality than the standard Wuyi oolongs I offer, and the tea seems to have better longevity when brewed gongfu style.

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 at this time.

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