311 Tasting Notes
Finally finished off my stash of this, the last package gone. It was rich with a quality that I am having trouble describing—a bit like cantaloupe, perhaps, almost a hint of umami, not just floral and sweet nor caramel warmth, but rich and fruity. Sigh. Are the jassids biting this year?
I posted a combined review of this and a few other Alishans from Norbu on my teapages. Unfortunately, the one package of this that I had was opened a bit early, and suffered some loss of freshness and ‘zing’ before the review. So I can’t really rate it properly.
I missed making a note first time around for this tea. I broke off a small quantity of this one to enjoy now, although I intend to let most of it age a while.
Tonight, just 1.8 grams of tea in a very small gaiwan, which holds 50-60mL, and tap water at 205 degrees.
The dry leaf is quite dark, with some paler leaves twisted in with the rest. The scent is light, herbaceous, soil-like.
First a flash rinse, wait a minute or two, then a first flash infusion. Strongly herbaceous, some bitterness waiting in the wings, hint of sweet but only a hint. Leather, fresh-cut wood, umami noticeable after cooling, sipping more slowly.
2nd infusion was similar. 3rd infusion, still flash infusions, more sweetness starting to come to the fore, although the leather/earthy/umami is still dominant. 4th infusion, waited 5 seconds before starting to pour: sweet, anise/herb notes are stronger again. The leather/umami is still there but lightening, less overwhelming but still stronger than anything else. 5th, 10 seconds before pour: more sweet. 6th, similar, the long sweet finish starting to really take over. Yes, there is some bitter in there too, but my taste buds are doing a happy dance now. Nice nice nice. One more and I’ll be done for the evening [nope, make that 3, we’re up to 9 before retiring for the evening]. This is definitely one to continue tomorrow—want to see how far it can go.
10 and 11 down before I had this note open to edit: sweet, delicious, holding up well to some strong onion flavor in what I was eating before starting back with the tea. 12 was too short, about 5 seconds, just sweet water. 13, was barely patient enough to go 20 seconds (I am thirsty)—more flavor of herbs to back up the sweet—14, 15, 16, similar, beautifully balanced between sweet and herbaceous and sweet forest duff, tastebuds doing happy dance again. Then a horrible moment—I looked over for infusion 17 and the gaiwan was EMPTY. Filled, infused again, world righted itself on its axis. Whew.
18, 19, 20 still delicious, but starting to lighten up. Need to lengthen the infusions again. 21 to 2 minutes….still needs more. #22 will be 3 minutes, and was a little better. Going to push #23 for 5 minutes…..and it is again very nice. 10 minutes on #24, and it is nice, but back to nearly sweet water. Time to add water and go do some chores for an hour or two, maybe. #25 lost something to cooling down; #26 suggests the leaves are finally done.
Overall, an excellent experience, and this is while it is still only an infant tea.
First time back with this tea in a while, after pushing a lot of alishan (opened several bags to do a comparative tasting a while back and was dutifully trying to finish them off before returning to the other greener oolongs). I really packed the gaiwan. Mmm….so floral and rich and sweet. I adore the spiciness of the Alishans, but my heart belongs to TGY!
Finished my sample off with only a small quantity of it left, in a small glazed gaiwan. It has an earthy, forest-floor, mushroom background, mild sweetness and hints of spice & herbs. Very nice stuff. Still only about 10 infusions into it, but because I only have a small quantity left—fully hydrated, they take up only 1/4 of the gaiwan volume—I expect it won’t go as many infusions as it did the first few times. But I can’t hold that against the tea. I was the one who only bought a tiny sample!
In the middle of another very nice session with this tea—sweet, herbaceous, a hint of umami and mushroom, and hints of bitterness with longer infusions.
It definitely rewards close attention and very short infusions.
Edited to note that I quite at about 20 infusions, little more than sweet water, but still hints of the more complex flavors at the start.
An exceptionally nice session with this tea yesterday, brewed up a thermos full and still the leaves had power for a few more infusions. It was sweet and spicy and there is a new earthiness starting to appear, and the smoky starting flavor is less apparent. And now, the dilemma: continue drinking, or stop and wait a year or three more? I like it so very much as is…..
Today, started with this one hotter, 170 degrees, and very short infusions: it was more aromatic, fruitier, floral, fantastic through the first three infusions of 20-30 seconds apiece. Getting bolder, set for 185 degrees for the fourth: still mmmmmm. Not even a hint of bitter. Starting cooler seems like a good idea, but the heat kept it going nicely for several more infusions, before sweet water was reached about the 7th or 8th infusion.