Tea Gallery 50s shuixian

Another sample from Northern California, this one is supposedly a 1950s shuixian from the Tea Gallery in NYC.

The dry leaves are quite broken and quite brittle, thin, light, almost paper thin. I think Toki remarked on this characteristic before. I’ve seen teas that are papery, although not quite this papery before.

The first two infusions were very dark, this is the third, and considerably lighter in colour. The taste? It is quite sweet, no bitterness, some spicy notes. I’d say it is in some ways a typical heavily roasted but properly aged oolong, in the sense that there’s no sourness and the right kind of sweetness — the kind that you only really get with time. There’s also no charcoal taste, which is nice. The tea has some longevity, although shuixians are typically not very long lasting, unfortunately, in the sense that it gave out faster than I had wished, but perhaps I am asking too much of the broken leaves (usually a result of re-roasting — every time you reroast some leaves get broken).

The tea is nice, although I do think that maybe there’s a time when aged oolongs should just be drunk, rather than left to further aging. I am guessing that after about 30 years or so the incremental change isn’t that much, and that the teas should be consumed in time. Then again, there are so many variables, such as storage conditions, reroastings, leaf condition, etc, that one cannot really generalize. Such is the mysteries of aged teas.


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