I was at Amoy Tea shop (see 20 Aug 2010 blog) last month when a couple of elderly gentlemen walked in and bought a few tins of "Sea Dyke" Lao Chung Shui Hsien. They communicated in a Hokkien dialect with Mr Tan, the proprietor, before leaving the shop happily with their tea.
Mr Tan later told me a little history of this tea. Amoy Tea in the 1950's was the sole distributor of "Sea Dyke" tea. As the export quantities of this tea was controlled by the Chinese government, there was a good and strong demand by the tea drinkers here in Singapore. This is especially from the migrant Fujian community in Singapore where many had taken up work and residence here in this country. I suppose, that this tea represented, to the migrant Fujian tea drinker, a kind of link to their roots in China. A sense of nostalgia perhaps but it brings back memories of their times in China. This tea was sold for $16 during that time. This was a luxurious amount to pay for the tea. A bowl of noodles with a drink costs about $0.50 during that time ( it costs $4 now). Mr Tan had observed that there are many old "Sea Dyke" tea drinkers especially from the Fujian dialect who are still faithful patrons of this tea. Mr Tan also mentioned that his clients of this tea do tell him that even though there are occasions that the tea is not up to the mark (due to a poor harvest), his clients will be faithfully buying and drinking the tea. This tea now retails for S$11 (about US$9).
This tea is produced by Xiamen Tea Imp & Exp Ltd. Their website, also in English describes this tea (http://www.china-xmtea.com/eBusiness/EN/product_detail.asp?catalogid=2&productid=148) as "It is one of our traditional high- grade tea products, fully displaying the four features of "YAN" flavor; vivid, sweet. clear and fragrant. It is black bloom in color, with thick, lasting fragrance, heavy, mellow, smooth taste as well as distinct "YAN" flavor. Even thick tea soup won't taste bitter or astringent. It can retain its unique flavor even after several times of brewing."
This 125g tea is well packed in a tin. The tea has a nice strong fragrance and the color of the brew resembles a ripe pu tea. I found the flavor robust but not bitter. The tea has a nice toasty and woody aroma with a slight sweet aftertaste. It is not bitter and the tea make a really enjoyable drink. My family members like this tea and gave good opinions on this beverage. A brew can make 5 good infusions.
I enjoy this tea very much. I would recommend a buy on this inexpensive tea. The added bonus from purchasing this tea is the tin that houses the tea. This tea is packed to the brim in this 5 inch high tin. Its like a well decorated tea caddy. It comes with a plastic stopper and this tea container can be reused to store your other teas you have in your collection. Time to make a brew of this tea.....