Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

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Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by john.b » Aug 7th, '16, 02:57

I visited a Chinatown tea shop not so long ago, where I tried an aged TKY oolong I'd written about, and also tried a tea they presented as a Shi Li Xiang Wuyi Yancha. It seemed a lot like a Wuyi Yancha, just not really similar to others, with just this or that aspect matching. It was really aromatic, a bit floral, with a bit of almond coming across, complex enough that it seemed like more tasting would sort out more, so I bought some. It didn't seem like one of the best Wuyi Yancha I'd come across but quite interesting, and decent tea.

After trying it again I wasn't thinking that it might be some unusual tea type, but I wasn't turning up information about it either. Since that translates as "ten league fragrance" or "ten mile aroma" (surely the unit of length isn't going to translate) it just seemed like a marketing term, that there must be more to what it really is, a tea type. I could swear that I had a relatively awful version of a tea sold as such once before, but since I bought the tea based on trying it first that wasn't really relevant.

There were clues it was unusual; the brewed tea color was a little brown (and that typically doesn't vary from the normal range), and although Wuyi Yancha can be aromatic, and floral, with other fragrant aspects this one different. The basic flavors range was definitely tea though, and from the limited scented teas I've tried it's been easy to pick up adulterated versions, and this seemed real. After questioning it I unfurled leaves completely and they seemed unusual; a bit thin, narrow, and long, or at least long for how narrow. I've tried one "wild" tea of a related but different plant type before and that really didn't go well; it was clearly not tea. This seemed to clearly be tea, based on taste range.

The only reference I found called a similar (or the same) tea type Kun Ming Shi Li Xiang, and said it was possibly a tisane, and prepared as a dark compressed tea. This vendor has ties to the Wuyishan area, so I didn't doubt that the tea came from there. They provided an interesting picture of the tea growing (or so it seemed), labeled as Camellia Sinensis cv. Shilixiang, skipping the variety, although at a guess it's clearly variety Sinensis (not much of an informed guess, since it's mine). There is another great clue on the sign; who made the tea, Wuyi Star. Of course I asked them, I just didn't hear back yet..

A little more background, reference links I did find, and I'll leave it open for further input.

http://www.teadatabase.com/all-the-tea-in-china/

They said this: Uncertain classification. Could be a herbal tea., but the Kun Ming part isn't clear, and it's definitely not a compressed tea.

http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTO ... 402008.htm

A research paper "Research on Protection and Utilization of Old 'Shilixiang' Tea Trees in Kunming." But it seems likely these are the same plant type, but not growing in that location. I can't access the paper because it's restricted to registered users.
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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by Tead Off » Aug 7th, '16, 05:11

John,

I believe the common spelling is more like Qian Li Xiang, 1000 Li (distance measurement) fragrance. About 5 years ago, I posted a response to Wyardley who mentioned this tea. IIRC, I bought some for Gingkoseto who it seems doesn't post here any longer, too bad. Perhaps you found this tea in the same shop that I used to buy it from on Charoen Kreung, close to Hualamphong. It is a very good tea to age as it is heavily roasted and fairly similar to Rou Gui, in the same genre of Wuyi that give that deep, spicy brew. It reminds me to go back and pick some more up. Are they still packaging it in those paper containers which they fold right in front of you and then stamp with the tea's name? Old school.

You can do a search here to find the posts related to this tea. Qian li xiang.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by john.b » Aug 7th, '16, 06:05

That's a great lead; thanks. It may well be that same shop, if you'd meant Jip Eu, which meets that description. This tea was sold in a mylar-type sealed pack but I've bought tea there in the multi-layer self-sealing packs, with a paper outside, and they do put the sticker on as you buy them.

I'm guessing this really is just another cultivar, a close relative of every other Wuyi Yancha, which is the vendor's impression. It's not as good a story though. The roast is a bit medium (always relative to expectations, as everything is though), so not so much a problem to drink a new version. But they said they had a year-old version, and I was guessing it would've improved, but I'd just tried this version (the new harvest) with them and liked it and wanted to try brewing changes so I bought it.

(that shop) https://www.facebook.com/threeshelltea/

That shop owner is touchy about having people take his picture for some reason but I'll share his image all the same, in the interest of marketing, since surely he would look familiar.
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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by jayinhk » Aug 7th, '16, 12:08

http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?p=132924

Slightly OT, but do you guys have any suggestions for Chiang Mai? I'll be up there next month.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by kyarazen » Aug 7th, '16, 13:54

dont take the wuyi tea name too seriously.. tea is dynamic, it changes its body, flavour, fragrance, profile in different season, year etc.

the names of wuyi tea can be classified into categories on how they came about.. like by legend... by the environment the mother tree grows in... by the shape of the tree... by the leave characteristic.. by leave color... by the period of tea budding... by the method of manufacture to give the structured profile.. ... by flower names.. by the mother tree specie.. etc etc..

even shuixian tea came from a mispronounciation of the cave name where the tea was found..

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by john.b » Aug 7th, '16, 22:38

jayinhk wrote:http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?p=132924

Slightly OT, but do you guys have any suggestions for Chiang Mai? I'll be up there next month.

Monsoon tea shop is in that area, worth a look. They've been experimenting with local "wild" teas, related plant types, so it might be interesting to see how that works out. I've not tried what they're selling now so I can't say, but I have tried some more conventional and local Assamica based teas from them, and they're fine, just depending on where one stands on black teas.

My understanding is that as far as tea production goes the Chiang Mai area produces from older Assamica plant types (more native to the region, not that it probably makes a lot of difference when a plant arrived; actual plant ages maybe more so). Plantations in the Chiang Rai area, specifically Doi Mae Salong, but not only there, produce Taiwan cultivar oolongs, initiated more recently, in the last 25 years or so (roughly speaking; I don't know when the first plants actually went in). One exceptional tea worth keeping an eye out for is a Thai version of Oriental Beauty, which I think is produced by the 101 plantation in the Chiang Rai area.

There is a tea shop (dry tea sales) in the Chiang Mai airport worth keeping an eye out for. I've not spent time there or bought tea from them but they offer tastings, so you can't go wrong buying what you know you like.

I think a lot of the commercial plantations in the Chiang Mai area, and to some extent Chiang Rai as well, may be a disappointment. Even if they produce and sell oolong in addition to Assamica black teas (typically #12 and #17, Jin Xuan and Bai Lu) most of the oolongs are medium grade, great for someone just moving into loose teas, not so great for someone that wouldn't be interested in a mid-range lighter Tie Kuan Yin. There would be exceptions, like that OB, but I wouldn't know how to turn them up since it's been a long time since I've been in the North, and I try Thai teas through vendors finding the exceptions. It couldn't hurt asking on Thai Facebook tea groups, although you'd get more response if you wrote the question in Thai (but many Thais can use some English, so still worth a try).

A starting point reference:

http://pattayatoday.net/features/this-t ... -thailand/

I just tried a Boon Rawd tea at an expo here; not bad for mid-grade, but I wouldn't want to own much of it.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by john.b » Aug 7th, '16, 22:40

kyarazen wrote:dont take the wuyi tea name too seriously.. tea is dynamic, it changes its body, flavour, fragrance, profile in different season, year etc.

the names of wuyi tea can be classified into categories on how they came about.. like by legend... by the environment the mother tree grows in... by the shape of the tree... by the leave characteristic.. by leave color... by the period of tea budding... by the method of manufacture to give the structured profile.. ... by flower names.. by the mother tree specie.. etc etc..

even shuixian tea came from a mispronounciation of the cave name where the tea was found..

Related to various naming conventions existing, this tea would have a different cultivar name, wouldn't it? I won't lose sleep if I never find that out, and it probably wouldn't mean anything to me if I did, but I'd feel a sense of closure if it turned up on one of those cultivar database references.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by ethan » Aug 7th, '16, 23:53

jayinhk wrote:http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?p=132924

Slightly OT, but do you guys have any suggestions for Chiang Mai? I'll be up there next month.
Are you going to the city only or the whole region; &, for how long? You might research Mydreamguesthouse for staying close to tea farms & going around....

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by jayinhk » Aug 8th, '16, 00:04

ethan wrote:
jayinhk wrote:http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?p=132924

Slightly OT, but do you guys have any suggestions for Chiang Mai? I'll be up there next month.
Are you going to the city only or the whole region; &, for how long? You might research Mydreamguesthouse for staying close to tea farms & going around....
Just a week...no plans yet. Heading to Nepal first! Thanks for the suggestion!

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by kyarazen » Aug 8th, '16, 04:38

john.b wrote:
kyarazen wrote:dont take the wuyi tea name too seriously.. tea is dynamic, it changes its body, flavour, fragrance, profile in different season, year etc.

the names of wuyi tea can be classified into categories on how they came about.. like by legend... by the environment the mother tree grows in... by the shape of the tree... by the leave characteristic.. by leave color... by the period of tea budding... by the method of manufacture to give the structured profile.. ... by flower names.. by the mother tree specie.. etc etc..

even shuixian tea came from a mispronounciation of the cave name where the tea was found..

Related to various naming conventions existing, this tea would have a different cultivar name, wouldn't it? I won't lose sleep if I never find that out, and it probably wouldn't mean anything to me if I did, but I'd feel a sense of closure if it turned up on one of those cultivar database references.
shi li xiang from what i know is a name from the method of manufacture/processing in wuyi tea.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by jayinhk » Aug 8th, '16, 20:10

john.b wrote:
jayinhk wrote:http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?p=132924

Slightly OT, but do you guys have any suggestions for Chiang Mai? I'll be up there next month.

Monsoon tea shop is in that area, worth a look. They've been experimenting with local "wild" teas, related plant types, so it might be interesting to see how that works out. I've not tried what they're selling now so I can't say, but I have tried some more conventional and local Assamica based teas from them, and they're fine, just depending on where one stands on black teas.

My understanding is that as far as tea production goes the Chiang Mai area produces from older Assamica plant types (more native to the region, not that it probably makes a lot of difference when a plant arrived; actual plant ages maybe more so). Plantations in the Chiang Rai area, specifically Doi Mae Salong, but not only there, produce Taiwan cultivar oolongs, initiated more recently, in the last 25 years or so (roughly speaking; I don't know when the first plants actually went in). One exceptional tea worth keeping an eye out for is a Thai version of Oriental Beauty, which I think is produced by the 101 plantation in the Chiang Rai area.

There is a tea shop (dry tea sales) in the Chiang Mai airport worth keeping an eye out for. I've not spent time there or bought tea from them but they offer tastings, so you can't go wrong buying what you know you like.

I think a lot of the commercial plantations in the Chiang Mai area, and to some extent Chiang Rai as well, may be a disappointment. Even if they produce and sell oolong in addition to Assamica black teas (typically #12 and #17, Jin Xuan and Bai Lu) most of the oolongs are medium grade, great for someone just moving into loose teas, not so great for someone that wouldn't be interested in a mid-range lighter Tie Kuan Yin. There would be exceptions, like that OB, but I wouldn't know how to turn them up since it's been a long time since I've been in the North, and I try Thai teas through vendors finding the exceptions. It couldn't hurt asking on Thai Facebook tea groups, although you'd get more response if you wrote the question in Thai (but many Thais can use some English, so still worth a try).

A starting point reference:

http://pattayatoday.net/features/this-t ... -thailand/

I just tried a Boon Rawd tea at an expo here; not bad for mid-grade, but I wouldn't want to own much of it.
Thanks, that's quite a comprehensive breakdown. I don't know if I'll find tea as good as tea-side's, but let's see. Ethan just sent me a lengthy e-mail about Chiang Mai with his suggestions, too.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by john.b » Aug 9th, '16, 01:39

kyarazen wrote:
shi li xiang from what i know is a name from the method of manufacture/processing in wuyi tea.

I would have assumed it was a marketing name for a specific tea type / product but it sort of works out the same, if it's instead a reference to processing. Either way there would be a separate cultivar name for the plant used to make it out there.

I just ran across a similar multiple naming case for a Dan Cong, when the producer had referenced the common name, that of an aroma / flavor aspect, and also mentioned the cultivar / plant type it was made from, with the two apparently separate but equivalent references.

It's odd that Da Hong Pao is the same type of case, since that's not the name of a cultivar (per my understanding; surely not the final word on the matter). It seems possible it was the name used to identify a tea plant type at one point (multiple plants identified as one type, with related but not identical genetics), and it still is used, but my understanding is that now Qi Dan and Bei Dou are the two names for plant types used to make it, with two different versions of Bei Dou in existence, and I've heard passing mention that there may be another special case out there still.

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by john.b » Aug 9th, '16, 06:30

I wrote a blog post about the tea but there's really nothing new in it beyond this discussion thread; it's just Wuyi Yancha, although an interesting version, quite aromatic. It was a good chance to read up and ramble on about cultivars and all the rest but for most here that would be familiar ground, nothing new.

There isn't much on the internet about Qian Li Xiang, just a bit, but more than about Shi Li Xiang, which does seem to be the same tea.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... stery.html

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Re: Shi Li Xiang tea; what is it?

by Tead Off » Aug 9th, '16, 07:39

john.b wrote:I wrote a blog post about the tea but there's really nothing new in it beyond this discussion thread; it's just Wuyi Yancha, although an interesting version, quite aromatic. It was a good chance to read up and ramble on about cultivars and all the rest but for most here that would be familiar ground, nothing new.

There isn't much on the internet about Qian Li Xiang, just a bit, but more than about Shi Li Xiang, which does seem to be the same tea.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... stery.html
Gingkoseto knew immediately what I was talking about when using Qian Lixiang. It is probably the more common name for whatever cultivar it might be.

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