This past week, I spent each day reviewing every single Ti Kuan Yin Oolong I currently own; taking pictures of each tea, writing down notes of aroma and taste, enjoying them in a calm setting. It was a fun experiment I did to compare and contrast each tea, then decide which one is my personal favorite. So after a delightful week of tasting, smelling, and writing about them, I decided to re-review this tea properly. When I first started reviewing my Ti Kuan Yin’s I did not have a standard review process or anything for that matter. Now, I will be reviewing this tea using the same guidelines I used for the other TKY’s I have. My current standard reviewing guideline is: Inspection of the dry leaves, 7 rinses or steeps (with taste profiles for each cup), inspection of the wet leaf, and a conclusion.
So let’s get started!
As stated in my previous review, I received this tea as a gift during the past holidays. My first try was a disappointment, my second one was very enjoyable. This time it was an eye opener.
I placed about a teaspoon of the dry leaves on a small white porcelain plate for inspection. The leaves had a mild floral aroma with a faint sweetness in the background. The leaves had a very beautiful rich dark jade color to them. This tea has perhaps the richest dark green color I’ve seen on a TKY.
As with my other TKY’s, I prepared this tea using a gaiwan and using the suggested brewing guidelines of 205F water and a 4-5 min steep time as stated on the Harney & Son’s website (they are nowhere to be found in the packaging of the tea).
The resulting brew was a clear green-yellow cup with an intense floral aroma. While the dry leaf isn’t as aromatic, the infusion produced the most fragrant orchid aroma I’ve smelled compared to my other TKY’s. It also had a very gentle sweet floral flavor. Light bodied and subtle, the first cup was all about the aroma. In the second cup, the intense aroma remains there, but the flavors of the tea begin to have noticeable subtle changes. The brew became sweeter, slightly creamy, and now with a clean refreshing floral aftertaste. After a few sips, the sweet fragrance would remain in my throat and mouth as a reminder of the tea I just had tasted. In the third cup, I noticed a less intense aroma, but the tea became smoother, buttery and creamy, with an even more intense aftertaste that lingered in the back of my throat. On the fourth and fifth cups, the tea remained with its floral fragrance, but now with a “green” hint. The aftertaste remained there, although not as intense, and each sip left me with a fresh mouth feel. On the sixth cup, the aroma was now really subtle, with only a hint of floral flavor. The tea became much smoother, slightly buttery, and with a hard to explain “juicy” sensation. In the seventh and final cup, the aroma was completely gone by now. The floral taste is still there but really faint. The tea itself now became mostly a sensation in the mouth, a very pleasant one, buttery textured with a “juicy” mouth feel. After some internet search looking for a word that best describes it, I feel the closest description for this cup is that it is rich in umami. Can this tea take more than seven infusions? I bet it can. But I decided to end it there and save the leaves for later.
The wet leaves were made up of mostly unbroken large leaves with some damage and some small pieces. I found only one stem in about a teaspoon of leaves.
I decided to re-review this tea at the same time as my other Ti Kuan Yin’s to give me a better perspective as to which one truly was my favorite. While my first impression of this tea was mostly fixated on how expensive it was and high hopes of an otherworldly experience, this time I decided to review it solely on its taste. Overall, as of today, I can safely say this is my favorite TKY I currently own. None of the others I’ve tasted during this past week have the mix of intense aroma and subtle complexities that this tea has to offer. Each cup was a unique and great experience, something that I really look for in this type of tea. You definitely have to drink this tea on its own, as food or other drinks might overpower the delicate flavors of this tea.