Let it be said, I have the best mom ever. Yesterday I found out that Enjoying Tea is having a sale on some of their Yixing pots, and I mean a massive sale. I really wanted the lovely Purple Clay Bamboo teapot (it has a similar theme to my current Oolong Yixing) but had absolutely zilch when it came to money. So she totally surprised me and bought it for me, of course the hard part will be deciding what to season it with while waiting for it to arrive. Roasted Oolong, Fujian Blacks, Sheng Pu Erh, Shou Pu Erh? So many decisions, any suggestions?
Today is another offering from Teavivre: Nonpareil Taiwan DaYuLing High Mountain Cha Wang Oolong Tea, and what a mouthful that name is! Let’s break it down, shall we? Nonpareil is French for without equal (or it is those amusing sprinkles used in baking, but that is another meaning) Da Yu Ling Mountain is mountainous region in Taiwan, and High Mountain refers to the impressive height the tea is grown at. A whopping 2,500 meters above sea level, the highest of the High Mountain teas, nestled in the cold clouds. I believe that Cha Wang means Tea King, and since I have seed Da Yu Ling Oolong referred to as the King of Teas, that makes sense. The aroma is, well, it is a Da Yu Ling, the aroma is spectacular. It is very rich, blending heady orchids and honeysuckle nectar with roasted chestnut and a hint of spinach. At the finish there is a slight sweet bread quality, specifically fresh yeasty bread drizzled with honey.
After I finally manage to pull my nose away from the dried leaves and give the tea its much desired bath time in the gaiwan, the aroma hits my face and I drift off into a happy place. Oolongs just have that affect on me, their aroma is hypnotic, especially High Mountain Oolongs. The wet leaves are sweet, blending honeysuckle nectar and orchids, with a hint of spinach and chestnuts. Very similar to the dry leaves but without the yeasty quality and mostly heady floral. The poured off liquid is very sweet, primarily the aroma of honeysuckle with a hint of orchid and mineral water.
Strap yourself in (if your desk chair has that function, mine sadly does not) because the Teavivre website recommended eight steeps with the gaiwan, and you can bet I put this tea through its leafy paces. Oh that velvety mouthfeel, it just fills up the mouth. The taste is faintly sweet and floral with a mild vegetal midtaste and a faint mineral aftertaste. The first steep is very much so a prelude of greatness to come.
The aroma of the next steep is very heady, mostly honeysuckle and orchid, with hints of vegetal and chestnut. The mouthfeel is more buttery than velvety this time around. The taste starts more vegetal and then pretty quickly fades to honeysuckle sweetness with a mineral aftertaste.
Round three, the aroma is much sweeter and with stronger notes of honeysuckle. As with the previous steep the mouthfeel is still quite buttery and smooth. Also in common with steep two it starts with vegetal (I would venture a blend of spinach) with chestnut notes and fades to honeysuckle sweetness that stays until the aftertaste.
The fourth steep’s aroma is very sweet, pretty much entirely honeysuckle nectar and a hint of orchids. The taste is sweet and creamy all the way through, fading from honeysuckle nectar to sugar cane juice with a finish of chestnut. This steep seems to be the most intense so far, it is quite incredible and worth savoring.
The fifth steep’s time to shine, the leaves have thoroughly unfurled and cause the lid of my gaiwan to rest on a nest of leaves, it is quite pretty. The aroma is pretty much identical to the previous steep. The taste is also very similar but with more of a cane sugar sweetness than floral sweetness. The finish has a hint of fresh plum juice that is just delicious. This one rivals the fourth steep for favorite
Steep number six’s aroma has a surprise for me, it is still very sweet and floral but instead of being mostly honeysuckle and orchid there is also a bit of gardenia, it is such a heady blend. The taste starts off sweet and floral and mostly stays that way until the end where mineral finishes it off. Even though the end is mineral the aftertaste is floral.
The seventh steep’s aroma is faintly floral and sweet, a ghost of its previous glory with orchid and gardenia. The taste starts off delicately sweet and floral and fades to mineral which stays for the aftertaste. The previous buttery mouthfeel is much subdued as well, it is still soft but not as smooth. The tea is certainly on its last legs.
Time for the finish, like any good symphony, it ends gracefully. In fact, I think I will compare this steeping experience to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (first movement), because the colors of the music match the colors of the taste. Synesthesia is hard to explain sometimes. The aroma is faint, the whisper of flowers carried in on a breeze. The taste is gently sweet with just a hint of a smooth mouthfeel and a very delicate floral finish. I am not sure if I can say this Da Yu Ling is now my favorite Da Yu Ling, it is certainly a contender! Clearly I need a side by side battle between the two, but regardless the experience was heavenly and I certainly recommend giving it a try if you can!