I’ve been trying with this one…
I managed to get a really wonderful flavor from this the first time I tried it on Saturday night – particularly in the fourth infusion drunk from a gaiwan after the first three were poured for service with 30-60 second infusions. Really smooth, sweet, and a great balance of toasted wood and florals, light sour, and highish medium body. The roast is evident but not charry at all. Rather, it’s a nice sweet/sour balance that’s produced similar to the sort of balanced achieved when making caramel. Many of the qualities of this tea are similar to caramel, in fact… except for not having the taste. The pleasant lingering sour note (think the sour of milk or the aftertaste of fresh orange juice) and mouthwatering effect is really nice and a prolonged brew with cooler water following hotter short infusions seems to really build the sweetness (the pounded rice exterior of mochi and a tad similarity to honey barbecue sauce comes to mind).
Unfortunately, brewing since then in a more controlled manner has yielded less remarkable results. If early infusions are pushed too far by either time or especially heat, it produces an off-taste similar to the smell of water spinach or kale has been boiled in and all subsequent infusions are left lacking intrinsic value and somehow tainted with a bit of a dill taste. I’m getting good results with a double rinse (triple might be good) using 87C water and then waiting a bit and brewing around 80C or a little cooler to drink from.
I love the roasty, classic Tie Guan Yin fragrance and aroma of this. The age isn’t noticeable from the consumer standpoint, though it may be a large function of why it can taste so good at times. Best taste and widest range of flavors I’m getting is when this is made mild while using about 3g in 125-150ml water while not stirring.
Wine grapes and the smell of sunwarmed trees on a cool winter day really comes to mind off this. Buttery impression, too.
Definitely not your new-age light oxidation TGY. Has a sort of rugged or out-in-the-country air about it. Much of this comes from the dry fragrance and wet leaf aroma advertising an piled autumn leaves aroma and sort of a crisp, clean mountain air aroma off the liquor. It’s an aroma I really associate with broadleaf evergreen woody plants in autumn when hiking. a dried-grass toasty note prevails as well. So much of the aromas remind me of the smells of Sonoma County.
Taste tends to be light and sweetish. Much like a light sugar water… I imagine steeping a small chunk of sugar cane in water would taste similar. Doubly so if the cane was tossed in the oven for a little while before hand. Tastes of oak leaves, sedges, and a bit of hay. Telltale orchid, vanilla, and cream-like faint sour of roasted TGY. The acidity is actually a bit like citrus, though, which I don’t think I’ve picked up in a Tie Guan Yin before this one.
I’ll follow this up with another log focusing on specific flavors with a test on the triple-rinse notion.