4 Tasting Notes
I was thrilled and disappointed to find an unopened foil package of this in one of the tins on my tea shelf – thrilled because I occasionally treat myself to this (very expensive) tea and it’s one of my favourite Dragon Wells, and disappointed because my pack had a harvest date of 2012.
I’m not sure how I forgot I had this for a year and a half – the perils of having dozens of tins and ziplock bags of teas.
It’s a very delicate tea even when it’s at its freshest, so I brewed, in a glass jug, about 5g in 300ml near-boiling water for about 4-minute steeps to try to compensate for any diminished taste. With the fresh leaves, I’d usually use about 2-3g.
The leaves are very small and light green, the liquor a nice clear pale yellow, and the taste and smell are softly grassy. I got a lovely oily mouthfeel, and the aroma and flavours were the same as with fresh leaves, but much fainter as I expected.
I’m rating this highly based on experiences with fresh leaves, and how well it has stood up over time – its characteristics were faint, but it had no staleness, and the flavour and scent, though not as vibrant as when I buy and drink this around harvest time, still tasted beautiful and fresh.
Overall this stood up very well; I only managed to get 2 infusions from the leaves before the taste and aroma vanished, whereas with recently harvested I can get 3 or even 4, but I’m still as impressed with this tea as ever, and will be searching my tea tins for any more forgotten treasures.
I tried brewing this two different ways today, in a porcelain gaiwan and a terracotta clay teapot; I’ve always found a bitter taste to (most) oolongs, and a friend suggested I try brewing them in clay to reduce that, which I think works, but I’ve not tested side-by-side with the same tea ’til now.
3g-4g in a gaiwan using 95C water at about 30 seconds per steep. I re-infused the leaves about five times, and both my housemate and I tasted the liquor of each infusion. He found it pleasant, mild and sweetly vegetal; I found it mouth-puckeringly, nose-wrinkling bitter, and getting worse with each infusion until I couldn’t drink any more of it.
7g in 500ml of 95C water in a terracotta clay teapot, 5-minute steeps for 3 infusions. Again, my housemate and I shared the liquor. This time we both found it mildly grassy with a pleasant sweetness, a faint earthy undertone, and a slightly spicy aftertaste. The final infusion was brighter and milder than earlier steeps, and it had lost the earthy undertone entirely.
I’m rating this tea on my clay-brewed experience of it because the extreme bitterness is something I seem to get with a lot of porcelain/glass brewed oolongs, and which most people don’t seem to find (or at least not to the same extent).
Brewed to my own peculiar tastes, this is an oolong I’d drink day-to-day; it’s not astonishingly captivating, but it’s nicely refreshing with mild flavours.
I drank this yesterday – about 7g brewed in 500ml of water at 95C in an unglazed terracotta clay teapot for 5 minutes per infusion for 3 infusions. The teapot has a little stand with a tealight to keep the tea hot so that I can sip it all day long; I was expecting, but didn’t find, that standing candle-warmed for an hour or two significantly altered the flavour – it deepened and softened it a little, but I found that quite enjoyable.
I usually use a gaiwan or glass jug to brew my teas, but a friend suggested using clay for oolongs because I get a very bitter taste with a lot of them (though looking at the other reviews here, bitterness doesn’t seem to be an issue with this tea, so I might try brewing it in a gaiwan the next time I drink it).
With so much water, even with fairly long steeping times, I was expecting this to be quite weak, but even on the third infusion it had a delicate but full flavour, floral with a vanilla-ish hint, and a rich, sweet and quite heavy scent.
A subtle but nicely flavoured tea that’s very pleasant.
I received some samples of Taiwan oolongs from Angel at TeaVivre this morning, and this was the first one I tried. I made it in a gaiwan with the whole of the sample pack (5g or 7g, I think; the weight wasn’t on the packet), and steeped for just half a minute or so each time with water of about 90C.
I haven’t had a lot of oolong before, and I’ve always found them a bit bitter for my taste, but this one was incredible – it’s been elevated to my favourite tea of the moment. It has a warm and very distinct sweet flavour that has a gentle spicy hint, and an addictive aroma of sweet-mellow autumny grasses.
I got about eight full-flavoured infusions out of the leaves before the flavour started to weaken, and I was tempted to try to squeeze a couple more out. Will definitely be buying a stock of this, I’m smitten with it.