Water Sprite Tea
Heavy Roasted Shui Xian Tea
Water Sprite Tea is a Chinese oolong tea that is darker than the typical oolong teas from the same region.
Darker in color and mellow in flavor, this oolong tea has a long history and tradition and may still be found today being served at many Chinese tables.
What makes this tea so unique?
This is a floral tea made from juicy thick tea leaves that undergo a heavy roasting process to achieve their full potential in terms of flavor and aroma.
Naturally sweet and healthy this is a tea that you will surely enjoy for its amazing aftertaste that will have you going back again and again for another cup.
Come and let’s find out more about
this Chinese Oolong Tea!
What is Water Sprite Tea?
Water Sprite or Shui Xian tea is a Chinese oolong tea from the Wu Yi Mountains in the Fujian province in China.
This tea is made up of large thick glossy dark green leaves, with an orchid and narcissus aroma. The leaves are slightly twisted into tight strips with a delicate curve.
This is one of the darkest oolongs that are grown in the Wu Yi Rock Mountains in China, due to the charcoal finish that this tea undergoes.
The Origin of Water Sprite Tea
Water Sprite tea may also be called Shui Xian or Shui Hsien in Chinese, Water Fairy, Narcissus, or Sacred Lily and it was discovered sometime during the Song Dynasty.
The various names come from the story behind the origin of this oolong tea. It is said to have been found in a cave near the Tai Lake in China, called “Zhu Xian”, meaning prayers to the gods”, pronounced Shui Xian.
Water Sprite may also be a Taoist reference to the spirit of the water. And at times the tea may be called Narcissus because of its floral aroma that is similar to that of narcissus flowers in bloom.
Processing Water Sprite Tea
Shui Xian tea is semi-oxidized tea to 40% to 60% making it a dark full-bodied oolong tea.
This tea is grown in the Wu Yi Mountains at 800m of altitude where environmental conditions combine the perfect temperature with the right amount of humidity to produce this great tea.
Harvesting – Shui Xian tea bushes produce a high quantity of leaves and so can be picked in all four seasons. Three to four tea leaves, usually large and dark green, are plucked.
Withering – this tea is withered under the sun to remove extra moisture and begin the oxidation process.
Tossing – Tossing the tea in bamboo baskets helps break the cell tissue of the leaf and further its oxidation. This tea undergoes a long oxidation process, reaching 40% to 60% oxidation.
Shaping – Leaves are twisted into strips that some say are shaped like the head of a dragonfly or frogs’ legs. Traditional Water Sprite tea is hand-rolled.
Firing and Roasting – this step finishes off the drying of the tea leaves. However, this tea undergoes a final heavy roasting step that gives it a uniquely dark amber color and charcoal aroma and flavor.
This heavy roasting process is ideal for aged varieties of teas, so let’s take a look at the varieties of this tea.
Varieties of Water Sprite Tea
Lao Cong Shui Xian – this variety is said to be made from bushes that are about 200 years old. This variety of Shui Xian is darker and is produced using traditional methods.
Aged Shui Xian – this particular variety is said to have been aged for a few decades and re-fired making it smoother in the mouth. This re-firing occurs every few years to preserve the tea making it a full-bodied tea with a floral aftertaste.
Younger Shui Xian – this is a variety that is lighter in color but heavier in the mouth. It is mostly destined to be blended with other teas, sometimes resulting in lesser grades that have less of the typical sweet honey flavor.
Water Sprite Tea Benefits
This oolong tea is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that make each cup a great source of health benefits. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Digestive Aid and Weight Loss Tea
Oolong teas are great to improve your overall digestive health by stimulating your metabolism, helping to speed up your digestion helping fight acid reflux and bowel issues.
A cup of Water Sprite tea helps to break up elements in food faster and moves wastes along for quicker elimination from the body. This, a healthy diet and plenty of physical exercise may help you to lose weight.
This tea may also help fight bacteria in the mouth that may be the source of many of your digestive problems.
This oolong tea contains caffeine, which means it is a stimulating drink, helping you to keep alert. At the same time this tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine that helps you to stay calm and focused.
L-theanine helps to calm and soothes the nerves. So while caffeine in tea may stimulate the brain function and improve memory, L-theanine helps to relax the mind.
Improving Heart Health
Oolong tea is rich in antioxidants that may help to lower blood pressure, help strengthen blood vessels and reduce bad cholesterol levels that may cause heart disease and stroke.
A regular cup of tea may also lower blood sugar levels. By aiding in the control over blood glucose levels, this tea may benefit people who suffer from type II diabetes. Of course, this should be monitored by your doctor regularly.
Strengthening Bones and Teeth
Water Sprite tea also contains calcium and fluoride which may help prevent tooth decay and help strengthen your bones.
As an added bonus, this tea is naturally sweet with a floral and fruity flavor, which means that it does not need any added sweeteners. No additional sugar may not only help your teeth but keep your heart healthy and weight under control.
Boosting the Immune System
Antioxidants in an oolong tea may help to prevent infection and inflammation that cause illness. Drinking tea may not only help you to heal faster but also to prevent the onset of disease.
Environmental pollution and stress increase your exposure to free radicals and these harmful elements may cause damage to your skin causing premature aging. Antioxidants in tea may help to fight free radicals such as this.
These are just some of the benefits that oolong teas have to offer you. You may find out more about these general oolong tea benefits here.
Caffeine in Water Sprite Tea
Water Sprite/Shui Xian tea is a Chinese oolong tea that is made up of buds and larger leaves of the tea plant so it contains caffeine. This particular tea has a light to moderate level of caffeine.
Caffeine helps you to keep alert and awake, but it may also have some unwanted side effects.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, too much may cause you to have headaches, feel agitated and have trouble sleeping. You may even experience heart palpitations or insomnia.
In extreme cases of allergic reaction to caffeine, some people may even suffer from skin rashes, stomach or intestinal problems. Consider drinking decaffeinated or herbal teas.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your daily caffeine intake is something you should discuss with your doctor as it may harm your baby. Other options may be available for you.
Enjoy your oolong tea in moderation and make it a part of your daily routine.
Drinking Water Sprite Tea
Brewing a cup of this oolong tea is quite simple. You just have to keep in mind a few suggestions to get you started.
So let’s take a look at how to brew Water Sprite tea to get the best flavor out of this tea.
Water temperature: 90ºC - 95ºC (194ºF – 203ºF)
Quantity: 2-3 tsps/cup (250ml)
Steeping Time: 1-3 minutes
Rebrew allowed: Yes
You can choose to brew your Chinese oolong tea either in a Yixing clay teapot or a porcelain teapot. Preheat your teapot by filling it with hot water which you discard once it begins to feel warm.
As for teacups, choose white teacups that allow you to experience the true color of your brewed tea.
If you are brewing this tea the Western way, place 2 to 3 teaspoons of tea per cup of water (8oz or 250ml) in your teapot.
On the other hand, if you prefer to brew this tea in a Yixing teapot the Chinese Gongfu way, fill it 1/4 to 1/3 of the way.
Heat water to a temperature of 90ºC to 95ºC (194ºF to 203ºF). If you let the water boil, then let it sit for about a minute before pouring over the tea leaves.
If you plan on enjoying Water Sprite as well as other oolong teas, consider purchasing a thermometer or even a tea kettle with temperature control.
In the Western way, this tea should be steeped for 2-3 minutes, or more for a stronger, darker tea. In the Gongfu way, steep your tea for 1 minute only.
When serving the tea always empty the teapot into your cups. Otherwise consider using a tea strainer or tea ball so that you can remove the tea from the teapot and prevent further steeping.
This tea may be reinfused 3 to 5 times more. With each reinfusion you should increase steeping time by 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Now it’s time to enjoy this tea and its wonderful dark amber color due to its heavy roasting process. The slow baking process using charcoal also influences its aroma and flavor.
Slightly spice and with a little astringency, this tea has a narcissus floral and fruity fragrance with a hint of smokiness.
Take a sip of this tea and see if you can feel its thick and mellow flavor. This naturally sweet tea requires no additional sugar as you should already feel a certain honey and peach-like flavor.
Enjoy this tea throughout the day or with your meals and with each new infusion you will experience new layers of flavor and aromas.
Remember to store this tea carefully in an airtight container away from sunlight to best preserve its properties and flavor.
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”In the Taste of a single cup of tea you will eventually discover the truth of all the ten thousand forms in the universe.”
- Attributed to Kyongbong Sunim, Ch'an (Zen) Master
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