I was extremely excited to order three Taiwanese winter oolongs from my friend Brett at Black Dragon Tea Bar (see his highly entertaining tea blog at http://www.blackdragonteabar.blogspot.com/). He never fails to bring back amazing teas and teaware from his annual Taiwan tea buying trip. I’m more familiar with spring oolongs, so I was curious to try a few winter ones!
This Lishan brewed up a cheerful golden yellow, with that familiar creamy floral note that I do love so much. However, unlike its springtime cousins, this tea was more about the savory than the sweet! For the longest time I couldn’t place the flavor I was thinking of.. I was ticking through some famliar adjectives in my head.. “hmm, sweet? floral? vegetal?” then finally I could place the note: Applesauce! The tea has a sweet fruitiness, but also that savory note from home-cooked warm, thick, applesauce with a dash of cinnamon.
My first time brewing this tea was in a porcelain gaiwan, and I used a tad cooler water, which I do sometimes to try to enhance some of the lighter floral notes. It seemed a tad flat, so my second try with this tea I used a yixing pot and hotter water. That made the leaves much happier. It was definitely made for hotter water, and it made savory note round and sweet.
It’s interesting. I don’t know much about winter Lishans, but this one at least had a very "umami"note. Usually umami is a term used to describe the buttery, velvety mouth-feel of a Japanese green tea. But with this Lishan also possessed these characteristics, at least to me!
I’m still having fun playing with brewing temperature and technique for this one. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover another flavor next time. Blueberry sauce? Pasta sauce? Stay tuned…