Yay! First reviewer of this lovely tea. It is currently on sale at Norbu Tea (my favourite online tea supplier, so far), and is worth buying. Very. Go buy some now and then come back and read this review.
The tea, lovely little green and yellow balls of it, has a sweet, green smell when raw – like flower stems. I brewed exactly as Norbu recommended, and the resulting tea is a very very pale amber with a gentle sweet greenish smell.
I have to admit that I don’t like green teas very much, so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like this tea, but I had nothing to worry about. This tea starts out bittersweet, with some spinachy greeness to it, but sweetness immediately takes over, and reveals fantastic and long lingering tastes of cinnamon, grain and brown sugar. It is a very refreshing and interesting tea, a perfect tea to close a busy day with.
2011 Winter Ali Shan 1200m Elev
Winter Harvest 2011
Growing Area: Alishan Scenic Area, Chiayi County, Taiwan
Varietal: Qing Xin (Green Heart) Oolong
Altitude: 4,000 ft (1,200 m)
This Winter Harvest High Mountain Oolong Tea comes from the Alishan Scenic Area in Southwest Taiwan’s Chiayi County. As is the case with all of our Alishan Oolong tea, we work with one family who live in Dabang Village in the portion of Alishan Township reserved exclusively for Taiwan’s Tsou indigenous ethnic group. This plantation is in the hills above Dabang at an altitude of 1,200+/- Meters (4,000+/- feet) above sea level, and this batch of tea was harvested in early December during the Winter harvest season of 2011.
Flavor and Aroma:
This tea has a unique Winter “High Mountain Aroma” that can best be described as “orchidy” or floral, but it is an aroma (and resulting flavor) that is very hard to describe and truly unique to teas from this area and season. The mouthfeel of the infused tea liquor is nice and smooth, and the flavor is crisp, refreshingly sweet and floral as a result of the low oxidation and light roasting. The “hui gan” (literal translation: “return sweet”), or sweet aftertaste that comes after the initial bittersweet flavor fades, is extremely lovely, unique to tea from the winter harvest season, and long lasting.
I recommend steeping this tea gongfu style to truly enjoy the layers of flavor that reveal themselves as the leaves unfurl over a series short steepings. I would start with about 7 grams in a 100 ml Gaiwan, and begin your steeping process with a 20-30 sec steep using 175-180°F water, gradually increasing the steeping time and temp with each infusion. I have also enjoyed tea like this many times steeped in the Western manner with good results.