In a moment of either weakness or inspiration I ordered half a dozen different Shui Xian teas. I have been trying them out (first 2) with mixed results and may get round to sharing my notes soon after trying some of the helpful brewing guidelines offered on recent posts.
Meanwhile I have been trying to fathom out the complex details about Shui Xian.
Here follows what I think I have learned, can anyone add to, clarify or dispel from what I now think!
Shui Xian often called Shui Hsien there are a few others but these are the 2 most common
Frequently translated as Water Sprite, Water Fairy or Narcissus.
“A Passage To Chinese Tea” (book I purchased from TeaCuppa) summarises Shui Xian as being one of 4 type
Fujian Wuyi - here the Shui Xian trees will be grown in the Wuyi Yan Cha style
Fujian Min Bei - here the Shui Xian trees will be grown Bush style
Fujian Min Nan - Se Zhong Shui Xian or plain Shui Xian
Guangdong - Feng Huang Shui Xian
Yan Cha style trees have been described as being pruned to have large single trunks bearing several branches with a few large leaves – and the alternate Min Bei Style as having a more bushy effect with many trunks and numerous branches bearing a profusion of small leaves.
is called Min Bei province.
Shui Xian in the central Wuyi Shan area will be grown Yan Cha style (less leaf per tree), more careful selection of leaf, and artisan crafting in the making and roasting will result in higher prices that should demand a higher quality product. It will almost certainly have words such as Wuyi or Yan Cha in the name to indicate why that price is being charged.
Shui Xian grown on the periphery of the Wuyi Shan area, or from young and/or bushy trees may try and command higher prices and may misleadingly include descriptive terms like Wuyi that are misleading.
Shui Xian grown just outside the Wuyi Shan area – OR anywhere in Min Bei province can legitimately be called Min Bei Shui Xian if the trees have been grown in the Min Bei style.
The Shui Xian variety though not as highly esteemed as the famous 4 Si Da Min Cong, or Rou Gui, or a few other highly praised cultivars is DEFINITELY thought of as a producer of very good tea when grown in the right location and grown and made into tea by craftsmen. It is also very easy to take cuttings and produce new trees / bushes which is why it can be found throughout Fujian and Guangdong and elsewhere in Chinese tea provinces.
The problem is that it can also be very prolific, and at the expense of some quality it has been massively propagated and become the mainstay of the bulk market, particularly the overseas Chinese restaurant trade. Affordable tea at (as far as accompanying a Chines meal) acceptable quality.
Many tea bushes throughout Min Bei – away from the Wuyi Shan area – are dedicated for the production of ultra cheap tea and Shui Xian is the favoured choice of many tea producers.
is called Min Nan province and it has it’s prestige tea growing area Anxi County and it’s own paramount tea Ti Kuan Yin, but a second tier of Quality teas referred to as Se Zhong are made from Se Zhong varieties either blended together to provide a required end product or made as a Se Zhong varietal tea. Shui Xian is one of the 11 or 12 recognised Se Zhong varieties. Outside Anxi county. Min Nan oolongs may also be made from Shui Xian bushes. Min Nan Shui Xian - according to a google translated page from Chinese of a Taiwanese Shui Xien – says that Min Nan Shui Xian will be of a lighter greener fragrant style)
uses Shui Xian bushes to produce it’s Narcissus teas, but these are based on the min Nan style of Shui Xian Oolong. It is almost impossible to find anyone supplying these for export, and appears to be for (cheap) local Taiwanese consumption and may even have real Narcissus flowers added. Certain Taiwanese roasters appear to import Shui Xian leaves from Wuyi and roast them themselves. Shui Xian is the name of a water deity much celebrated in Taiwan and may be part of the reason so much talk is made of Taiwan Narcissus teas in non tea blogs, yet there does not seem to be any available on the Internet market, not even sure if it's true. Shui Xian is apparently also the Chinese name for the Narcissus plant.
Guang Dong – Feng Huang
Apart from the expected tradition of being more specific about the ingredients in a product the higher the quality it does seem that when called Feng Huang Shui Xian it is a common or garden quality tea, probably made from bushes of the Min Bei type, but turned into tea in the Phoenix style. If it is further described as Lao Cong or Dan Cong then the tree is more likely to tend to the Yan Cha growing style - an older tree, with a single trunk and fewer leaves.
http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2007/ ... tea-2.html
reveals that propogation of tea trees / bushes in Guangdong was until fairly recently done by planting the seeds of the parent tree which results in entirely different cultivars to the parent tree. So Shui Xian from Guangdong has no resemblance to the Shui Xian of Wuyi. Shui Xian is the lowest of 3 categories of tea in Feng Huang (Shui Xian, Lang Cai, Dan Cong) and will mix the less choice leaves (or even less choice Trees) which will be mixing leaves from different cultivars. Hence the use of Dan Cong (Single Bush) for the premium quality Feng Huang teas, where the leaves of only 1 cultivar are used. Today however cloning by taking cuttings is firmly established in Feng Huang ensuring constancy and allowing Dan Cong tea to be made from more than 1 actual bush.
Tea obsession’s blog of the previous days give fascinating insight into the significance of ‘Wu Dong’ mountain and the origin of the names
‘Phoenix’ – ‘Feng Huang’