I recently purchased this tea from Teavana to see how well their Ti Kuan Yin stacked up to others in the market. While certainly not a bad tea, I had a few complaints about the quality of this particular one.
The dry leaves had a faint floral aroma, tightly curled up, with a light green/dark green mix with some splotches of brown.
I prepared this tea according to the suggested steep time of 3 min and using 195F water using a gaiwan.
The resulting brew gave me a clear dark yellow-green cup with a faint floral aroma. As with my other TKY’s, I intended to brew the tea at least 7 times.
My first cup was sweet, floral, with a slightly creamy texture and a surprising hint of milky flavor (like those present in the famous “Milk Oolongs”). My second cup retained its sweetness and floral aroma but was much less creamy and with no “milky” hint. In my third steeping, the brew became quite bland, retaining just a hint of the floral taste. In my fourth cup, the tea became just a hint of what it once was and now had a faint bitter taste in the background. From this point forward, I knew this tea wouldn’t make it to the seventh steep. I decided to steep it two more times and the resulting brews in the 5th and 6th cup were pale green cups with no aroma and small hints of flavor. I didn’t bother with a seventh cup because by now, my tea just tasted as slightly flavored hot water.
I checked on the wet leaves and while Teavana claims of “unbroken, evenly sized leaves,” this tea was made of nothing but broken pieces of leaves, a few steams, and two or three well preserved leaves . The leaves also felt quite fragile to the touch.
Overall, My first cup was pretty enjoyable, although not as complex as others I’ve tasted but still quite good. The only problem I have with this tea is that it releases most, if not all, of its flavor in the first cup making the subsequent cups just a far cry of what it once was. I feel this tea would be great as an everyday oolong, but the price ($25 for 2oz) and claims of quality (highest grade of oolong in the world) does not match its value.