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Why Shui Xian and Rou Gui is So Important to Understand Wuyi Rock Tea

The most famous Wuyi Rock Tea is Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe). While in Wuyishan, the old tea farmers would say ‘Only after knwing how to appreciate Rou Gui and Shui Xian, you come to understand Wuyi Rock Tea’.

Shui Xian

Shui Xian

Maybe many people will think ‘Ok, no problem, It is easy. I know how to differentiate Shui Xian and Rou Gui. Shui xian has kind of flowery flavor like orchid, and Rou Gui has a flavor like cinnamon, right?’

Rou Gui

Rou Gui

While in one tea competition in one year, the author came to drink tea in one friend’s tea shop in Wuyi. She brewed Shui Xian and Rou Gui by Zisha tea pot side by side and questioned us which one is Rou Gui. Most of us, though as experienced tea drinkers, answered wrongly. Yes, we really feel frustrated. Must go back to tea school to learn more.

No wonder the tea farmers in Wuyi use the ability to differentiate Shui Xian and Rou Gui to check if you are a real tea drinker. This is the best test for understanding of Wuyi Rock Tea.

Why Shui Xian and Rou Gui is so important? These two teas being so valued in the Wuyi Rock Tea family does not come in vain. Their talent and fortune make their way. 

The three advantages of them build up their reputation and status.   

1, History backgorund.

Shui Xian is a tea cultivar originated in Jianou County 建瓯县. And it was introduced to Wuyi in around 1821. Now the oldest Shui Xian tea tree in Wuyi grows in Hui Yuan Keng 慧苑坑. They aged aound 100 years. 

Hui Yuan Keng Shui Xian

Hui Yuan Keng 慧苑坑

Rou Gui Cultivar originated in Ma Zhen Feng 马枕峰 of Wuyi, and had been planted in Wuyi for a few hundred years. In 1985, the Fujian Crop Identification Committee formally identified it as a cultivar, and widely developed its planting. 

Ma Zhen Feng Rou Gui

Ma Zhen Feng 马枕峰

2,The outstanding cultivar characters.

In Wuyi there is a word, Savoury but Shui Xian and Fragrant but Rou Gui. This is the point of their quality  cultivar characters. 

Wuyi Shui Xian had been featured by the savoury thick mellow taste all the while. It is th best in terms of taste thickness and delicacy among all the Wuyi tea cultivars. 

The leaf of Shui Xian tea cultivar is not big but thick, and theere are double layers of palisade tissue in the leaf. So the leaf accumulates rich quality contents. The tea made by it has rich thick taste. 

The Rou Gui has unprecedented fragrance among the Wuyi Rock Teas. The fragrance of Rou Gui is strong and sharp, really a bit like cinnamon.

The orchid like flavor of Shui Xian can be found similar one from other cultivars. But there is no duplicate of it in fragrance for Rou Gui. The cinnamon like flavor of Rou Gui is very unique.

 3, Market value.

Now the yield of Shui Xian and Rou Gui holds up around 60% of the total Wuyi Rock Tea output. It means the market has accepted these two teas very well. 

In Wuyi, the farmers respond to the market very well. They always follow the market to adjust their planting tea cultivars. If you visit Wuyi and talk with the farmers, you will find what most they talk is that they want to shift planting of one cultivar to another cultivar, because the other cultivar sells well. It means that the 60% percentage of output share is decided by the market, which proves the market value of these two teas.

How to Taste Shui Xian and Rou Gui?

The two skilles to taste Shui Xian and Rou Gui is smell by nose and taste by mouth. 

How to taste Shui Xian and Rou Gui


1, smell the dry tea. 

The roasting extent and the keeping condition of the tea can be felf by smell. Although the tea is roasted, it can not have smoky and corase flavor.The good quality smell is pleasant and comfortable.

2, Smell the cup of Gaiwan

The cup of gaiwan after being brewed by Shui Xian gives off the orchid flwery flavor. The one of Lao Cong Shui Xian gives the flavor of wooden fragrance. And the one of Rou Gui gives off a kind of cinnamon flavor.

3, Smell the brewing water. the flavor of the water is generally same as indicated by cup of gaiwan. The good quality Shui Xian and Rou Gui jas lingering flavor of above mentioned orchid and cinnamon fragrance, especially those from rocky growing surounding. The lasting fragrance is referred as the depth of Yan Yun 岩韵.

4, Smell the brewed tea leaves. the fragrance of the tea can be reflected in the brewed tea leaves, especially in the early brewings.  The processing can also be checked from the brewed tea leaves. As oolong tea, the brewed leaves of Shui Xian and Rou Gui has the featured San Hong Qi Lu, 30% of red part and 70% of green part as the result of semi-fermentation.


People genrally taste the tea by sip and feel the tea by mouth and tongue, and also feel the smoothness and depth of the tea by throat, which is called as Hou Yun 喉韵.

In professional taste, people also purposedly make the tea stay in the mouth longer and take in some air by nose to stir the tea to feel the flavor and meanwhile the tounge feel the depth and thickness the tea. 


Changsha Wufeng Tea Co.,Ltd




Tags: Chinese Oolong Tea
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