Friday, January 16, 2009

1997 Shui Xian Brick from The Tea Gallery

Class: Oolong
Origin: Wuyi Mountains, Fujian Province, China
Year: 1997
Vendor: The Tea Gallery (Product page)
Price: $52.00 (100g cake)

Brick
Gimme a break...

I couldn't resist trying this KitKat-esque tea. It's an aged Shui Xian, so it already had two things going for it, and on top of that, it's a Kit-Kat-shaped brick of oolong! How cool!

Brick chunk
~1/2 of a Kit-Kat is a good amount for brewing in a 100mL vessel.

This is not an easy tea to brew (maybe a bit easier if you are more accustomed to brewing iron cakes or tuo cha), but it is quite good when you get it right. Some parts of this brick are heavily compressed, and it takes quite a while to come undone even in boiling water. I suggest picking this apart with a puerh pick or something; otherwise the outside leaves will be spent by the time the interior ones get a chance to infuse.

Early infusion
It takes quite a while for a solid chunk to open up; this is probably the second or third infusion but it is still pale yellow.

The tea has a nice (though pretty standard) aroma: plum or raspberry or however you want to describe that mature yancha fruitiness, chocolate, and a bit of spice.

Flavor-wise, this is about an 8. Not the best I've had (though ABx likes it a lot, so maybe I just haven't nailed the brewing yet), but far from the worst. It tastes pretty much like how it smells, but also leaves a nice aftertaste and a teensy bit of oiliness. This tea has pretty good endurance for an oolong, but it is not as long-lasting as some other aged oolongs I've had. Lastly, the product page is correct in saying it is a bit sour, but I don't think this is a plus (their description makes it seem more appetizing than it really is). Sourness seems to mask mouthfeel and texture in my experience, so it's not usually a good thing.

Later infusion
Mmm, that's more like it!

This might not have seemed like a favorable review, but I really do like this tea. My lack of exuberance is probably due to my frustration, as I can't seem to make it taste as good as ABx describes it. :D If you can be patient, I'd definitely recommend buying some of this tea.

4 comments:

eileen said...

How will you store the remainder?

Brian Lavelle said...

Great post, Brent. That tea looks delicious - even unbrewed! Your pictures show it off well; makes me want to crunch into the unbroken KitKat bar...

Brent said...

Eileen,

It came in an airtight bag, so I left the rest in there. I assume it was stored similarly, as oolong doesn't like to age in the air like puerh does.

Brian,

Thanks. :) Actually, if you look carefully at the first photo, you can see a feather embedded in the cake (the second-to-last Kit-Kat piece). Not a big deal really, though it does make me wonder how it got there— hopefully from a pillow and not directly from a bird... :/

Thanks for the comments,

Brent

MarshalN said...

You should separate the leaves as much as you can before dumping water on it. The same is really true of puerh as well. Otherwise it can take quite a while before you even get to the middle of the piece.

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