Hou De Tea Blog

Tuesday, September 26, 2006, 02:40 PM
Recently I had some interesting conversations with a good client about the Hong Shui Oolong. We both found its aroma/taste to be surprisingly similar to Wuyi yen cha. This triggers me to look back the history of Hong Shui oolong, and the history of Taiwan's oolong in general.

In our August Newsletter, we discussed the origin of Taiwan's oolong. Let me display the map showing the bloodlines again:

Wuyi yen cha is a high-oxidized (>50%) type of oolong. Its roasting degree may vary from light to heavy, depends on the cultivars and the target of consumers. Anxi Tie Guan Yin, relatively, is lighter oxidized; roasting degree can vary from light to heavy, too.

Wuyi yen cha is in the stripe shape, and Anxi Tie Guan Yin is in the round/ball shape.

Hong Shui Oolong is in the round/ball shape, but highly oxidized (60%) and of light/slow roasting degree. See the interesting crossover - or, marriage? Hong Shui oolong is the child of a happy marriage of the processing skills from Wuyi and Anxi.

The birthplace of Hong Shui oolong is Lu Gu, Nan Tou, in central part of Taiwan. This region inherits their oolong processing skill from Anxi. But later the Soft-Stem oolong cultivar from Wuyi became more popular in Taiwan than the Tie Guan Yin cultivar. I guess in certain point of time the cultivar brought the Wuyi oolong concept into the central part of Taiwan. Hence the birth of Hong Shui Oolong.

This batch of Hong Shui oolong was from a plantation in Dong-Ding, which has very similar weather and elevation conditions to Wuyi: Dong-Ding is about 700m high, and the average elevation in Wuyi is 650m. Both places are at approximately the same latitude, but different soil conditions. Hong Shui Oolong was made from a traditioal cultivar from Wuyi hundreds years ago. Same high oxidation. While you can certainly find "Wuyi" in Hong Shui oolong, some things are different: the Hong Shui has an intense sugarcane-y sweetness in the aroma and good roundness in taste. Wuyi yen cha (good ones, of coz) is more airy and floral, thick but not as round.

I guess we can use the concept of Terroir to understand the differences in them.

The redness in Hong Shui's liquor and the charismatic floral aroma are on a par with Wuyi Da Hong Pao. Try for yourself : )

You can see Phyll's tasting note of Hong Shui here.


Tuesday, September 5, 2006, 11:17 PM
Long-awaited 2006 Xi-Zhi Hao have finally arrived! This shipment brought us three of the 2006 series; in total we will have 5 different cakesfrom Xi-Zhi Hao's 2006 Spring-Harvested productions.

In the above picture, from left to right:
2006 XZH Tai-Chi Series: "Yin" - Buds-enhanced Lao Ban Zhan, 400g
2006 XZH Ban Zhan Natural Habitat Forest, 400g
2006 XZH Tai-Chi Series: "Yan" - Lao Ban Zhan, 400g

The "Tai Chi" series is Xi-hi Hao's special introduction in 2006: they both use genuine sun-dried old-tree mao cha collected from deep forests in the prestigious Lao Ban Zhan region. The "Yin" cake, breathtakingly beautiful, is decorated with silvery leaf buds from the same harvest region. "Yan" is without the leaf buds. The wrapper is two big letters - Tai Chi - written by the famous Calligrapher "Ke San", who is also the calligraphy mentor to the XZH owner Mr. Chen. The wrapper of Yin opens like this:

While the XZH is highly pursued in Asian market, people also wish XZH can make some more "affordable" cakes with same high quality and rigorous attitude. The answer is 2006 Ban Zhan Natural Habitat Forest cake. The mao cha were from a plantation in Ban Zhan that is co-planted with camphor trees (to deter insects) and naturally allow a balanced ecosystem. We are very pleased to introduce this fine cake : )


Saturday, September 2, 2006, 08:03 AM
Recently, we recived several concerned emails regarding our 1995 MengHai "Shui Lan Yin" as they heard from another internet source that 1996 is the first production year of Shui Lan Yin.

In the milestone book "The sequel of Pu-erh" by Prof. Deng Shi-Hai and Yunnan scholar Mr. Gen (the picture below shows the cover of this book), there is one complete article contributes to the discussion around Shui Lan Yin.

I scanned the first page:

Please click here to see the article.

The sentences underlined in red are translated as below:

"Shui Lan Yin Chi Tsi Beengcha

Even until today, the Shui Lan Yin is still a very
controversial cake.

Around the time of 1990 (meaning roughly early or
after 1990), Shui Lan Yin first appeared in HK market,
and its background had brought us some stories.


..the cake is very easy to loosen ... "

In the early 90's, HK's market generally did not accept the very raw new uncooked pu-erhs. Usually the tea merchants had to store the new uncooked pu-erhs for several years for aging before they started selling them. Hence, the real production date of the early 90's Shui Lan Yin could well be in late 80's.

So the saying that 1996 is the first production year is purely an uninformed speculation. Shui Lan Yin, just like many other famous pu-erhs, needs our keen curiosity with a humble and open mind
to understand and explore.

Drink to our humbleness and curiosity : )

Monday, August 21, 2006, 12:05 PM ( 33 views )
We had a wonderful, albeit small (9 people total^__^) group, first tea seminar "Experience Oolong and Pu-erh" at the Sandy's Market on August/20. We started a little unorganized, but in the end everybody had a great time and a lot of tea!

More pictures:
Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Thanks for joining us! We learned a lot from the first public Tea Seminar. Next time we will plan ahead earlier and be more organized : ) So please keep an eye on our future monthly Tea Seminar programs!


Monday, August 7, 2006, 05:01 PM -
Hou De August 2006 Newsletter

* The Origin of Formosa Oolongs

* The Aesthetics of Yixing and Chinese Calligraphy

* What's New

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