After spending a year and a half focusing on greens, I decided to mix it up and try an oolong that arrived in my Verdant sample box. The leaves are gorgeous, twisted, enormous dark things with an amazing smell fresh out of the package. Super duper tippy magic pekoe this clearly is not, but there’s no breakage to speak of and the leaves are pristine both dry and after they unfurl.
My first and continued thought about Shui Jin Gui Wuyi: WHAT IS IT? Sitting there with my first cup, brewed as a compromise between western style and gong fu, that was the question that came back to mind with every whiff and every sip. It smelled oddly familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It tasted familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. And I still can’t assign any specific name to it. Earthy, water chestnutty, coppery… but not quite. Like sucking on a dirty, tarnished penny… but not exactly. I realize I probably don’t make it sound particularly appetizing, but there’s something satisfying about it that demands continued drinking.
Second steep: The indescribable flavor continues to dominate, slightly stronger and with added notes of fire-roasted hazelnuts. For an intriguing juxtaposition, it also develops a cloying honey, slightly-fruity (summer melon?) finish that lasts between sips. (Verdant and other reviews describe it as elderberry; this Swedish-American doesn’t find that in his cuppa.)
Third steep: The sweetness moves into the main flavor profile. A more relaxed cup.
Fourth: Slightly more astringent cup. Scent now resembles a green. Flavors very mellow. Roasted coffee note develops. Continuing this tea’s trend of unexpected contrasts, the finish is heavy on the floral (citrus blossoms—a scent and taste I know well) with a hint of caramel and a slight creaminess.
Fifth: Very light liquor. Probably should have steeped longer. Grapefruit. Lingering citrus blossom/jasmine finish. Slight, passing copper note on the finish.
Sixth: The leaves aren’t spent quite yet, but results are getting light enough even with extended steeps that I called it quits. Copper moves up in the flavor profile, grapefruit moves back. Finish is extremely sweet with no hint of flavor.