As we all know, Shuixian tea has a long-standing reputation in the world of oolong tea. Upon closer examination, one can discover that Shuixian tea has many fine distinctions, mainly categorized into two major types: Minnan Shuixian and Minbei Shuixian. Let's explore the differences between Minnan Shuixian and Minbei Shuixian.
Differences between Minnan Shuixian and Minbei Shuixian
There is a clear geographical distinction between Minnan Shuixian and Minbei Shuixian. Minnan Shuixian is primarily produced in more than ten counties and cities in the southern part of Fujian province, where it is relatively abundant and commonly found in the market. Minbei Shuixian, on the other hand, originated in the northern part of Fujian, specifically in the Dahu Village of Shuiji Township, Jianyang County, over a century ago, and is currently primarily produced in Jianou and Jianyang counties.
Even for more finely processed loose leaf teas like Shuixian tea, the production methods can differ due to the tea's origin, even within the same province. Paying attention to the origin of tea leaves is essential if you want to purchase the best loose leaf tea.
Minnan Shuixian and Minbei Shuixian also exhibit certain visual distinctions. Minnan Shuixian has tightly rolled leaves with a sandy green color and a soft, glossy sheen. Minbei Shuixian, while having an even appearance and a sandy green color overall, features dark green leaves with white speckles near the central stem, often referred to as "clear dragon head and frog belly." These visual differences between Minnan and Minbei Shuixian are quite apparent when compared side by side.
3. Infusion Color and Aroma
Minnan oolong tea is known for its high, long-lasting aroma, with a scent reminiscent of orchids. Its taste is sweet, mellow, and refreshing, and the tea liquor is bright yellow. The leaves are bright yellow, thick, and uniform. Even after multiple infusions, the aroma remains pronounced, and the sweet taste lingers. In contrast, Minbei oolong tea has a rich, orchid-like fragrance, a full-bodied taste with a lasting sweetness, and a vibrant red infusion color. The leaves are thick and soft, exhibiting a "three red, seven green" pattern. However, in terms of reinfusion endurance, Minbei Shuixian is slightly less robust than Minnan Shuixian.
Minnan Shuixian Representatives
1. Zhangping Shuixian
Zhangping Shuixian, like Yongchun Shuixian, draws inspiration from tea production techniques in both Minbei and Minnan, but it features a unique and innovative appearance. It is shaped like small square tea cakes and is the only tightly compressed tea in the world of oolong tea. Zhangping Shuixian has a traditional flavor with the richness and sweetness of rock tea, as well as the floral aroma of Tie Guanyin (Iron Goddess of Mercy).
2. Yongchun Shuixian
Yongchun County is one of Fujian province's three major export bases for oolong tea, with approximately 140,000 mu (about 9,333 hectares) of tea gardens in the county. There are currently 20,000 mu dedicated to Shuixian tea, distributed in towns and townships such as Huyang, Dongguan, and Dongping, with an annual production of 1,500 tons. Yongchun Shuixian initially followed the production methods of Minbei (North Fujian), but later incorporated the strengths of both Minbei and Minnan (South Fujian) techniques. This has made Yongchun Shuixian more resilient for steeping, with a fresher aroma and a bright yellow liquor. It combines the rich and long-lasting aroma of Minnan Shuixian with the mellow and smooth taste of Wuyi Shuixian.
iTeaworld offers a Minnan Shuixian produced in Yongchun County. The tea trees have a history of over 60 years, and the resulting tea leaves are highly durable for steeping, with a rich tea liquor and a clean, high aroma. It is definitely worth trying.
Minbei Shuixian Representatives
1. Wuyi Shuixian
Wuyi Mountain is renowned for producing loose leaf black tea and loose leaf oolong tea, with a greater variety of loose-leaf oolong teas. Concerning the oolong teas produced in Wuyi Mountain, there is a saying that goes, "No oolong is as mellow as Shuixian, no aroma surpasses cinnamon, and no rhyme is like Da Hong Pao (a famous oolong tea)." Wuyi Shuixian has a rich, fresh, and smooth taste that is both silky and sweet. It exudes an elegant and enduring high aroma, with a natural floral fragrance akin to orchids. Although its flavor may not be as rich as Da Hong Pao or as dominant as cinnamon, its unique water rhyme offers a distinct and enjoyable experience.
2. Jianyang Shuixian
Jianyang is situated in a high-mountain tea region, and different mountains impart unique "mountain rhymes" to its Shuixian tea. Jianyang Shuixian places a strong emphasis on "absorbing water," aiming to derive aroma from taste and emphasizing "activity." The liquor of Jianyang Shuixian is either orange-yellow or golden, with a clear appearance. It features a clear and enduring high aroma, while the tea leaves are thick, soft, and shiny, with red edges.
3. Jianou Shuixian
Jianou is the largest oolong tea export production base in Fujian, with Shuixian tea being the primary product and the largest Shuixian tea export production base in the country. The dry leaves of Jianou Shuixian are thick and robust, with a dark brown hue. After steeping, it exhibits a noticeable caramel aroma, and the tea liquor is orange with a hint of red. Its taste is full-bodied.
This article shares information about the differences in origin, appearance, infusion color, aroma, and processing between Minnan Shuixian and Minbei Shuixian, along with representative teas from each region. Hopefully, this information will be helpful when selecting and purchasing Shuixian tea in the future.