I’ve tasted about a dozen ali shan offerings (most of them quite green, slightly-roasted like this one). Upon comparison, this is a standout. When it comes to floral aromas, I found some lovely ones within, lilac among them. However, it’s not as strongly floral as some I’ve had (and I do cherish those floral notes). Where this Pure Heart shines is the leaf freshness and tenderness and the even coverage of oxidation across the leaf. Obviously there was a lot of careful attention paid to bruising this crop, and it delivers a great drinking experience. Rich flavors of butter and corn are a delightful contrast to a light-bodied liquor which is clean and sparkling like champagne.
The pickers took complete budsets down to the third open leaf, yielding finished nuggets of dry tea that are large and fat. Many of the nuggets sport a ‘handle’ of stem which I’ve come to associate with hand-picked products. Gazing at the steeped budsets transports me to the tea fields in my mind’s eye. They are so juicy and tender that I am inclined to gobble up 90% of the leaf and stem, as if it were steamed asparagus. I wonder what it would taste like with a little bit of vinegarette dressing … something to explore with a future session’s results. I’m having my tea and eating it, too! This ali shan is an opportunity to discover the sweetness of stems, which are often sweeter than the leaves. This revelation has caused me to view stemmy tea with a less doubtful eye.
5 grams tea / 3 ounces water. Short rinse, followed by a rest … then steeps from one to ten minutes, with higher temperature in later ones.