A new teapot deserves a new tea so when my daughter brought over her latest thrift store find, an engaging porcelain teapot and cup set, we went through my stash to find a suitable tea.We settled on an unopened sample of Chinese Zhang Ping Shui Xian Oolong Tea Fragrant Orchid Grade One, produced in Fujian Province, from AprTea Mall.
Cutting open the foil packet, we were surprised to find the oolong quite beautifully compressed into a (paper-wrapped) cube! We hadn’t known that oolong was ever produced in this way.Without provided brewing instructions, we decided to try a 3-minute brew with 12 ounces of boiling water, which allowed the cake to fall apart, revealing complete leaves, many still on the stem, with oolong’s characteristic red edges.
This green oolong yielded an aroma with bright notes, vegetal but toasted, and an amber-colored cup.My daughter, a friend of ours, and I all enjoyed this tea, remarking on how the flavor seemed to shift from sip to sip, ranging from pleasant and light at first taste to a slightly more bitter note as more of it was consumed. It was also astringent (although not in an unpleasant way), so we should’ve used a lower temperature and/or shorter brewing time.
Still, we liked the vegetal, yet slightly toasty, nature of this tea, along with the lingering floral aftertaste. We thought this tea toastier than Sumatra Barisan, but lighter and brighter than Formosa Dark Pearl.
So here’s the great thing about tea—by changing the brewing parameters, you can get an entirely different experience!
Using a much lower temperature and brewing for only 2 minutes, the liquor was a more pale yellow with a sweet, floral aroma. Its flavor was softer, very mild and pleasant, lightly floral, with a lovely buttery mouthfeel, and almost no astringency.
Had I more of this tea, I would definitely start with the lower temperature because I preferred the softer, sweeter profile. So thinking about that—and wondering how this same tea would taste if brewed in a clay pot rather than porcelain—I ended up ordering some for future experiments!
Sampling a new tea is always fun as well as a learning experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to learn anything about the tea set, which emulates regal clothing.
A Google search of “shenghuoyuansu” was fruitless although putting the words into a translator brought up “life elements,” which certainly does describe tea! And I love the graceful maker’s mark and all it evokes—shelter, family, grounding, life.Because it’s always more than tea.