Mao Xie Hairy Crab Oolong (毛蟹烏龍茶) is a rather refreshing light oolong. It comes from the famous Anxi County of Fujian Province where it is grown around Gan De Town at an altitude of around 500-700m. Firmly in the ‘green’ category of oolongs, it has a lovely, lightly floral profile with fresh vegetal and citrus notes. The current crop of Mao Xie Hairy Crab Oolong that we are offering is from Autumn 2017 harvest.
This type of oolong, similarly to our Tie Guan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy, is sometimes classed as a ‘green’ or ‘jade’ oolong due to the low oxidation level of the tea leaves. This low oxidation means that Mao Xie Hairy Crab Oolong has a light floral profile and has some characteristics that are similar to a green tea, while having an overall smoother and less astringent flavour. This characteristic is very appealing to tea drinkers that are looking for a refreshing type of tea that is similar to green tea in flavour but has lower levels of astrigency or bitterness.
Mao Xie Hairy Crab Oolong has a very distinctive name that is bound to cause a few laughs. The rather unusual name of this tea has a rather simple origin. Most likely it acquired the Mao Xie (毛蟹) name, which literally translates as Hairy Crab, from the appearance of the tea leaves. The tea leaves of this Mao Xie cultivar have tiny silver hairs on the bottom of the leaves. Someone at some point made the connection between the appearance of these tea leaf hairs with the tiny hairs that some crabs can be covered with. Some also draw the much broader similarity between the appearance of the irregular rolled dry leaves and that of crabs or their claws. Good imagination is certainly required for this theory, but perhaps there are some similarities? Either way, the name obviously stuck and this tea ended up with an unusual and rather marine name!
The leaves of this Mao Xie Hairy Crab Oolong are tightly rolled but are irregular in shape and have a combination of light and dark green colours. The dry leaves have a fresh floral aroma and produce a lightly coloured and lightly perfumed liquor. The unfurled wet leaves have an appearance that is typical of a classic light Chinese oolong – whole leaves without stalks. This can be contrasted with the Taiwanese style of oolong tea, where both leaves and stalks are rolled.
The medium-bodied character of this Mao Xie Hairy Crab Oolong is crisp and refreshing, being quite light yet flavoursome. There are floral, citrus and green fruit notes that remind of magnolia, yuzu and sweet melon. The profile is a little similar to a green tea, exhibiting vegetal and slightly buttery notes. However, it also has a pronounced smooth floral flavour with no astringency or bitterness, making this an ideal tea to try for those that find green tea a little too bitter or drying.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3-4 minutes at a time if brewed Western style, re-infusing the leaves multiple times. This tea will also benefit from gong fu brewing. For gong fu method we suggest using a 150ml clay pot or gaiwan with approx 4g of tea, and water at 90°C. Pour the water over the leaves and then discard this first wash. Brew initially for 20s, increasing each subsequent brew by another 5-10s. You can repeat these steps until there is no flavour left in the leaves.