3 Famous Narcissus Oolong Tea(Shui Xian) Types Guide

Last Updated on 08/22/2022 by Desmond

Narcissus Oolong tea has nothing to do with daffodil, whatever the fragrance or flavor. However, the teas’ unique taste and excellent mouthfeel, make it populated by tea lovers from south China and even worldwide.

Narcissus tea is an Oolong tea but not a herb
Narcissus tea is an Oolong tea but not a herb

What Is Narcissus Oolong Tea

Many people may think it is from the ornamental plant – narcissus(or daffodil) when they first heard of Narcissus Oolong tea. This is a terrible mistake because daffodil is poisonous; it’s not eatable or used for brewing. Actually, Narcissus Oolong is a type of true tea with a flower name.

Narcissus Oolong origins in Jianyang, Fujian, China. Its mother tree was found on a small hill, and it was introduced to Wuyi Mountains and other regions about 200 years ago. The name Shui Xian was from a small cave beside the mother tree, which was named Zhu Xian Cave. The pronunciation of Zhu in the local language is similar to Shui. So people took it as the plants’ name. Even though most of the leaves will process into Oolong, some still will be made into black tea and white tea.

Narcissus Camellia Sinensis mother tree
Narcissus Camellia Sinensis mother tree

Narcissus tea tree belongs to the small arbor, large-leaf species, it will grow very high, and farmers need to pick the leaves with a ladder. Due to the long cultivation history, there are many old tea trees, and also the products are often graded by the age of the tree. The Old Tree Narcissus Oolong has an excellent quality, people love them crazy, but the yield is poor, also the price is much higher than the ordinary ones.

One thing worth knowing is Narcissus in Chinese loose-leaf teas means a Camellia Sinensis species, but most time, it also refers to some tea types; it depends on what we are talking about. The boundary between the two is blurred, and easy making confused.

Narcissus Oolong Tea Types

Except for grading by the tea tree age, much popular classified of narcissus Oolong tea is according to the origins. Their flavors and characteristics have significant differences.

Northern Fujian Narcissus

Jian’ou, Jiang Yang, and Wuyi Narcissus Oolong are all from northern Fujian. They belong to Rock Tea, with a famous rock taste. The widely known ones are Shui Xian(narcissus), Da Hong Pao, and Rou Gui (cinnamon, another name easy to cause misunderstanding).

The rock taste is hard to describe; it is from the unique cultivating environment and complex processing. With a deep roasting, the teas get a smoky flavor, like Lapsang Souchong. Unlike that complete-fermented black tea, Narcissus Oolong has just been partially fermented, the leaves remain fresh orchid fragrance. Especially, those leaves from the old tea trees are rich in moss and woody aroma. And according to different roast depths, narcissus Oolong teas also get various notes.

The mouthfeel of Wuyi Narcissus Oolong is also charming. Whatever grade it stays or how processing it has been, the Wuyi Narcissus infusion tastes mellow, with a limp stickiness feeling, showing bright amber, and without any irritating. It can slip down your throat, relieve thirst well, and you will unknowingly finish one cup after another.

Wuyi Shui Xian is a kind of Rock Teas
Wuyi Shui Xian is a kind of Rock Teas

Southern Fujian Narcissus

There are two famous narcissus teas in southern Fujian: Yong Chun Narcissus and Zhang Ping Narcissus.

The representative Oolong tea of southern Fujian is Tieguanyin. Therefore, southern Fujian narcissus teas have similar processing ways to Tieguanyin. Although they are Oolong, leaves are in a lower fermentation degree, with a robust natural floral note. Sometimes, Yong Chun Narcissus tea will be rolled into balls, just like the way Tieguanyin is.

Zhang Ping Narcissus tea is much more unique; it is the only Oolong which been press-processing. After the initial processing, tea masters will press the leaves into cubes with a wood mode, then roast to dry, and finally package with paper. Thus, Zhang Ping Narcissus tea is also called Paper Package Tea. When preparing to brew, it will be very convenient for one Zhang Ping Narcissus cookie just right for one brew.

Due to the low roast degree, Zhang Ping Narcissus has a more distinct fresh Orchid aroma, the infusion shows bright amber, and tastes brisk.

Zhang Ping Narcissus tea
Zhang Ping Narcissus tea

Phoenix Narcissus

A previous post had mentioned Phoenix Dan Cong(here); it is the top Oolong made from the Phoenix Narcissus tea tree leaves. It originated in Chaozhou, Guangdong, from a different Camellia Sinensis species with Fujian Narcissus. There is a definition that is easy to cause misunderstandings – Narcissus is also a sub-grade under Dan Cong tea, the lowest one. This confusion won’t lead to much experience difference in the flavor, but the price.

Phoenix Narcissus tea has many subtypes, which are classified by the aroma. The local tea masters let the leaves get various aromas by controlling the cultivating and processing ways, like the well-known Duck Shit Fragrance and Orchid Fragrance.

So we can see, compared with Fujian Narcissus teas, Guangdong Narcissus teas are more focused on the aroma but not the mouthfeel. It was said that in the old days, the traditional Phoenix Narcissus teas were not even processed in the Oolong tea method but like green tea, without fermenting. In this way, the tea gets a mellower mouthfeel, but a weaker aroma; nowadays, few tea masters will process narcissus tea like that.

Phoenix Narcissus Oolong tea
Phoenix Narcissus Oolong tea

How To Brew Narcissus Oolong

  1. Prepare a 120ml white ceramic Gaiwan;
  2. Rinse and preheat the teawares;
  3. Put about 8g Narcissus Oolong tea leaves in the Gaiwan, fill 100℃ boil water in slowly;
  4. Cover and steep for about 10 seconds;
  5. Pour out the infusion into the teacups or fair cup quickly, do not leave one drop inside;
  6. After the second infusion, the steeping time can be extended about 5 seconds each;

The critical point of brewing Narcissus Oolong is to pour out the infusion ASAP. That is to avoid the over much steeping time making the infusion become bitter and astringent, which will also impact the following brewing.

And to the pressed tea cake like Zhang Ping Narcissus, you can appropriately extend the first steeping time, and let the leaves fully unfold. For the rest rounds, you can follow the Wuyi Narcissus tea’s way.

A white ceramic Gaiwan is best for brewing Narcissus tea
A white ceramic Gaiwan is best for brewing Narcissus tea

Store Narcissus Oolong Tea Properly

First, a fridge is unnecessary for storing Rock Teas, like Narcissus Oolong, or you can consider it a bad idea. The dry leaves easily absorb the water inside the fridge air, and the smell of other food. It will cause staggering damage to the tea flavor.

Usually, Narcissus Oolong tea is stored at room temperature, and 3 conditions need to be satisfied:

  1. Stay in the dark. Avoid the sunshine causes a photochemical reaction;
  2. Keep dry. Avoid the leaves getting moldy;
  3. Airtight. Avoid the leaves’ flavor affected by the other smell;

To those deep-roasted Narcissus Oolong teas, some tea lovers like to take them out during storage and re-roast them. It will make the leaves much dryer, and get a more robust smoky flavor.

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