Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I really wanted to love this one, but it’s just not happening. I mean, it’s nice to sip on when I’m not thinking about it, but it’s not the delicious tieguanyin I’m used to. I understand this is a Taiwan version, but I’ve had jin xuans that taste more like tieguanyin than this tea. This tastes much more like mao xie (hairy crab) oolong than tieguanyin, actually. The sweet, potent florals of tieguanyin are pretty dull in this tea, and the added roasting just adds awkward charcoal flavors that make the taste seem unbalanced and somewhat stale. It’s really strong for the first couple steeps, too. I have to make the wash extra long just so I don’t have overbearing burnt barley and metallic flavors in the first steep.
The leaves and liquor have aromas that smell like roasted wheat and unripe fruits, mixed with some cooked vegetables and lots of grass. Actually, most of the steeps have a very grassy profile. Into the later steeps, things improve a bit with notes of asparagus and genmaicha, finally landing on some really vegetal qualities of tiequanyin. There isn’t much sweetness to this one, which seems to contribute a great deal to the unbalance of flavors. There are a few faint traces of melon, as well, and after sneaking a few peaks at some reviews of this tea, I agree with KS about the aftertaste seeming a bit like watermelon rinds. It’s interesting, but not the most satisfying.
The mouthfeel is common and uninteresting. It typically gets a bit creamy and slightly juicy during middle steeps, but it isn’t anything extraordinary. Most of the steeps end up being a bit dry.
Overall, this one is just “okay” to me. Nothing jumped out at me and the unbalance of flavors really threw things askew. I dunno, it just did not match up to all the other oolongs that I have tried.
Based on the conversation with KS below, I tried this again with a method closer to the suggested style: 4g per 100mL at boiling, wash, 25",35",45". I’m not sure if it’s that much better, but it is different. I’m also not sure which I prefer, flavor-wise. There are definitely some new blends of flavors. There are more fruity nuances, it’s surprisingly sweeter, and isn’t as bitter as I was expecting for such a high leaf to water ratio. It certainly is more bitter this way, however. With these added dimensions, it feels a bit more balanced, but the body becomes more monotonous. I still can’t get past the charcoal flavors, which are even more potent. Now that this is more severe with this session, I’m now recalling that every time I’ve tried this tea, it’s given me a headache. :/ Sigh, this just isn’t happening, folks.