A set of three Shui Xian from Fenghuangshan in Guangdong, illustrating the three grades of the style of dark, twisted oolongs produced in the region:
- Shui Xian—the catch-all term for the style, as well as (confusingly) a specific cultivar from which the other Fenghuang cultivars descend, tea labelled just with this are lower quality leaves, often blended together and quickly processed without the shaking treatment that brings out the most aroma.
- Lang Cai—designating properly shaken, but possibly blended, material, which is considered the middle quality level.
- Dancong—originally meaning tea made from a single plant, now usually by extension tea from a single cultivar (and often by further extension all Fenghuan Shui Xian), this is considered the highest level of quality and appears more frequently in foreign markets. Not all that glitters is gold, but we've chosen an excellent example for this set.
A great way to gain a better understanding of this richly variegated category of teas, and how careful selection and processing leads to the flavors and aromas we know and love.