Taiwan Tea Crafts Songboling Shui Xian

Origin: Songboling
Harvest: Fall 2013
Cultivar: Jin Xuan, Tres #12
Elevation: 350m

So I decided to write up a little bit on a rather interesting Taiwanese variation of a one of my favorite Wuyis. Shui Xian is sometimes transliterated as Water Fairy, Water Sprite, etc; unfortunately I don’t see a lot of them for some reason, I guess Shui Xians are not a popular Wuyi in the west, and normally a darker oolong than I normally drink. Taiwan Tea Crafts describes this as:

Some might find it unusual to see a Shui Xian tea listed in our collection of Taiwanese teas. Shui Xian Oolong Tea, otherwise known as Fairies’ Tears or Water Sprite tea, is a very famous oolong originating from the Wuyi Mountains in the northern part of Fujian Province in mainland China. Our local variation is made in the same style with a Taiwanese twist, featuring local leaf varietals grown in our local terroir and showcasing the roasting talents of our own tea master. An amateur of original Wuyi Shui Xian will find our tea quite surprising in the way it respects the distinctive aromatic characteristics of true Wuyi Shui Xians. Made from carefully twisted Jin Xuan leaves, this tea is oxidized (medium level) to retain the characteristic orchid scent, then, skillfully roasted to reveal the characteristic smooth wild honey taste and smooth finish with distinctive mineral notes. No overbearing, raspy finish here (like it is the case with some cheap Chinese variations you can find on the market)! The roasting skills of our tea master, that spans from generations of knowledge, shines despite his great humility. We are proud to showcase his skills with this deserving contribution.

I was rather interested in trying a Shui Xian grown in Taiwan, but I became a little hesitant when I read this is made with Jin Xuan leaves, although I am not sure if I could think of a better Taiwanese cultivar to use.

Dry Leaves: The majority of the leaves have an s like curve, there is quite a bit of reddish browns in the leaves, perhaps not as dark as a roasted TGY, but still a lot. And there is a little bit of roasted aroma to it, perhaps a little chocolate.

First Steeping
Temperature: 190oF
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Chocolate and Orchid
Flavor: Roast, Floral, Wet Stone and Honey
Tasting Notes: This has a strangely thick mouthfeel for a tea grown at 350m, I’d be interested in seeing this grown around 1000m and see how much thicker it would be. The liquor is very creamy, unsurprising because it is made from Jin Xuan. The roasted notes are very mild, even though I do not enjoy roasted flavors that much I found this quite pleasant and was my favorite individual taste.

There some floral tastes, but they were not particularly pronounced; they were stronger than the wet stone and honey notes, but they felt overwhelmed by the roast. As for the aroma of the liquor, it was a rather nice blend of chocolate and orchid; I do not think I have ever encountered that combination before normally with roasted or baked oolongs I do not smell floral notes. Regardless I enjoyed the aroma more than the actual taste of the tea, so far nothing was wrong with the taste, but I loved the chocolate and orchid combination.

Second Steeping
Temperature: 195oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Chocolate, Woodsy and Orchid       
Flavor: Roast, Floral, Wet Stone and Honey
Tasting Notes: The new woodsy aroma was quite interesting, it starting to overpower the orchid notes, but it is still quite pleasant. I am reminded of floral infused chocolate, but now there is a woodsy, almost earthy taste to it. I do not ascribe to the belief that teas or certain aromas or flavors are masculine or feminine, but if I did I would probably describe this as a nice balance of masculine and feminine. While the chocolate and woodsy aromas are certainly stronger than the orchid, but there is something memorable about how they interact.

The flavors are pretty similar to the last infusion, but they are becoming slightly stronger; although the wet stone notes are becoming a little sharp. 

Third Steeping
Temperature: 200oF
Brewing Time: Three Minutes
Aroma: Dark Chocolate, Woodsy and Floral
Flavor: Roast, Violet, Spicy, Wet Stone and Honey
Tasting Notes: Wow! The aroma is simply divine! Sadly the flavor of the tea pales in comparison to how it smells. Again there is nothing wrong with how it tastes, but this is a very aromatic tea. It feels much more aromatic than many Shui Xians from Wuyi. The more I drink it the more confused I am. I already mentioned this was made from Jin Xuan, but it feels way more aromatic than most Jin Xuans, let alone a roasted one.

I am not sure if I have ever encountered a roasted tea with floral notes this strong. This was quite an enjoyable tea. Taiwan Tea Craft (at the time of writing this) is selling this for $7 for 50g and it is a bargain. Even though it is obvious from the leaves (and the addition information section of TTC’s site) that this is a machine harvested tea, but it is obvious that a lot of work went into the roast.


Just a guy who likes tea.


  1. This tea sounds pretty interesting!

    1. It is more interesting than many of the proper Wuyi Shui Xians I had.