Saturday, March 12, 2011

Red Water from mountains

Another tea experience, I would like to share with you, arrived from Taiwan in January. It is not easy for me to write shortly and concisely all I would wish. Each new tea I have, teaches me (and usually pleases me) from very beginning - first look at the package, reading the name, first smell and observation of dry leaves. Than, when the time is right - first brew and first sip of the liquor. I am looking for the right setout with each new companion on my Way of Tea.

color of leaves goes from light yellow-green to dark green

Gao Shan Hung Shui Oolong
Origin: Shan Lin Shi, Taiwan
Harvest: Spring 2010(June 3rd)

 In this case it was package from Stephane Erler, so I knew for sure - it will be interesting. I opened the vacuum sealed bag and nice, roasted aromas reached my nose. I was drinking some aged oolongs before and my first thoughts were "this could be interesting to store!"  Gao Shan Hung Shui we can literally translates as "high-elevation red water". Maybe some more educated reader can tell us why "red water"? Anyway, Hung Shui usually refers to more traditional way of processing, which is not so common these days. Higher oxidation (more then 50%), slower and longer roasting is what also characterized this Gao Shan. I wish to see and experienced this processes live.

I like how the celadon cup have liven up the set.

first infusion is yellow green
Enjoying this tea, I find very difficult to describe individual tastes and fragrances there. Fragrances are not "popping" but rather calmed by the roast. At first, this tea resembled, in my mind, YanChas, but then I realized - the roast is not so strong and flowery scents are not from cliffs of Wui, but from mountains around Shan Lin Shi. Soup is definitely not watery, but not so creamy and thick as I know from other GaoShan oolongs. 

Thinking about it - the best thing, I find on this tea is its evenness. In the taste and fragrances as well as in mouthfell and aftertaste - there are no sharp edges. This kind of "serenity" allows to drink it often, but it is too good to be called the“everyday tea". I also find pleasant how its late infusions are still enjoyable. As the roast "calm down" fragrances in the same time it makes them deeper and long-lived.

I am glad to say that spring is slowly coming to our country-side. From my childhood the barbs with "lamb's-tails" are sign and symbol of the spring. I bring them with the mornig sun around on my tea table. We usually associate certain tea with certain kind of whether or season. In case of this Gao Shan there is no one mood to link up with. But during cold spring morning it works very well.

Wet leaves of the tea are green, with brown-red oxidized rims and spots. You can find mixture of different sizes, some leaves on stems some individual. If I should make a conclusion I would like to learn more about Hung Shui process and try more Hung Shui teas. And also try to store this tea (or similar one) for few years. I think the roast, oxidation and quality of this tea should be good presumption. 


  1. Yet another great post - the tea looks amazing, I can imagine how interesting a combination of typical Gao Shan tones and deeper, darker tones of higher oxidation has to be!
    Also, the photo of catkins in vase somehow eased my mind, which has been quite uneasy for the last two days, reminding me that spring is finally here - thank you for posting it.

  2. Thank you Michal, I like this tea and I can recomment you to try some.

    Yes, catkins are pleasant. You can feel the power of the nature going around those trees now. Those browse came from trees we had to cut on our garden. Flowers which will never become seeds....

  3. Stéphane's Hong Shui are really incredible. I am wondering about the storage of this teas too. I have had some for more than a year now, and I am very pleased with the result : calmer roasting, great balance of flavours, good after taste.

    Your photos are really incredible. I love the tea boat.

  4. Hi David, Thank you for your comment.

    I am glad to hear about your experiences with storage. It is stimulating.

    About pictures: If you could see my old camera...good morning light and newly painted green wall helped me.

    The teaboat is Mirka's(my girlfriend) work. The plate on it doesn't fit as she wishes -So I can keep it. I like it.

  5. Someone explained to me that the name "Hong Shui" derives from the tea leaves showing reddish edges after brewing. I had thought it might be an association with location. Have you asked your supplier about that? (He lives in Taiwan after all.) Lovely catkins in vase!

  6. Hi suopursu,

    Thank you for stopping by. Reddish edges make sense to me. However there were no (or only a little) red-brown patterns on this GaoShan. I can recommend to read this post with more red leaves:)


  7. Thanks Petr for the link, I'll have a look later. :)

    The name was something I had also wondered myself and had tried to find more information from TeaParker's blog, but I didn't find any - or maybe I wasn't careful enough while searching through his articles. Someday, I wish to have the good fortune to procur some and enjoy quiet moment of contemplation while taking this tea. (My dad had mentioned Hong Shui to me years ago.)