- Tea Knowledge
The uniqueness of this rare tea is readily apparent: unlike most Chinese oolongs—and indeed most oolongs everywhere—the large, lightly-oxidised leaves have not been rolled into tiny balls or long twists, but have rather been compressed into a minuscule brick. Place one in the tea vessel of choice, and apply the hottest water to encourage it to open. Its second unusual aspect is deductible from the name, for while Wuyi Yan Cha fans may know the Shui Xian cultivar best for the dark, roasted oolong of the same name, this version, from the south of the same province, is mild and smooth.
A bolder processing has resulted in a more astringent, but also sweeter infusion, with the darker flavor of brown sugar tapering off into sourer notes of red apple and cherry, and a yellow rose florality.
The Zhang Ping Shui Xian Light offers a milder and smoother perspective on this tea.
Zhang Ping Shui Xian bricks (bricklets?) are formed by hand pressing in a small, wooden mold before being individually wrapped and dried over hot ash. The bricks are then vacuum sealed to preserve freshness. Watch this short clip to see the molding in action: