Round II: out of curiosity, and because I had an open pouch already of the ‘White Oolong’ (spring 2011 from Jenai Township, Nantou County, Taiwan), I compared them this evening. I used a little less tea so the leaves wouldn’t be pushing up the lids of the gaiwans.
3.5 grams of tea on small gaiwans, about 75 mL per infusion, kettle set to maintain 205 degrees throughout
The Tsou Ma Fei has a richer, more floral scent; the White Oolong is sharper. TMF has larger leaves, and the dried leaf balls are a little paler sage color.
15": probably could have been a little longer, and the white oolong is distinctly lighter here too—even with only 15" infusion, the TMF is sweet and though not yet deeply flavored, it has more depth than the lightly sweet and grassy WO.
30": Very similar to the first infusion distinction: both sweet, spicy, but the TMF is definitely richer, deeper, sweeter—a stronger flavor at the base. The WO is delicious, but in a more delicate way, and it shines better when I sip it first, enjoy the lighter tea, then drink up the TMF.
30": Similar distinctions, both very similarly sweet and floral and spicy, but definitely a deeper richer oolong-ness in the TMF, and a grassier, more delicate white-tea-ishness in the WO. I understand better now why Greg calls the WO ‘White’ ‘Oolong’.
30-45": delicious again, such a nice ‘comparison’, where the teas are each so nice, but so distinct.
Several minutes (forgot!): still delicious, and both forgave the long infusion
1 minutes: this time, a little light—although normally this would be a good infusion length at this point in the series, the long prior infusion took a lot out of each of the leaves.
Almost 3 minutes: more delicate, but still delicious, floral and sweet both, but distinct
5 minutes: still a difference between them, but both are now floral, sweet, and the astringency and spiciness are mostly gone
I think I missed at least two infusions towards the end here, long infusions where I just ignored the gaiwans for a while and then poured and drank. They were also good. A lot of people might have stopped before this point, but the leaves were still yielding an improvement over plain water, so I enjoyed them. And interestingly, the flavors of both lasted to this point about equally well, with the same consistent flavor profile difference maintained to the end.