Medium Roast Ali Shan Oolong Winter 2008

Tea type
Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jillian
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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5 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I had a bit more than a cup's worth of tea leaves but not enough to make two, so this time around the tea is a little stronger. Its smell makes me think of puff-wheat cereal or maybe those...” Read full tasting note
    76
    JillDragon 1623 tasting notes
  • “The leaves are a dark green. The smell while infusing is a hard veggie scent. The leaves are taking a while to unwind. The liquid is typical oolong looking-type and the smell is that of slightly...” Read full tasting note
    86
    teaequalsbliss 6770 tasting notes
  • “I’ve noticed that several people enjoy the fall and summer Alishans from Norbu. I think we should try to do a comparison of all the different Alishans there. But now I have only this 2008 winter...” Read full tasting note
    84
    deftea 24 tasting notes

From Norbu Tea

-Winter Harvest 2008
-Gowing Area: Alishan Scenic Area, Chiayi County, Taiwan
-Varietal: Qing Xin (Green Heart) Oolong
-Oxidation: 25-30%
-Roasting: Medium
-Vacuum Sealed with desiccant in 50 gram portions
-Ships in resealable stand up pouch
-10% off orders of 2 or more x 50g bags (100g or more), 15% off orders of 5 or more x 50g bags (250g or more). Discounted price reflected in price displayed in shopping cart.
Description
For some time now, I have been searching for high quality examples of more highly roasted oolong teas from China and Taiwan. I was chatting with our friend and tea producer in Taiwan about how difficult it has been to find high quality examples of stronger roasting because of the popularity of the greener style oolongs, and she decided to send a sample of this more strongly roasted tea from their Winter harvest of 2008. I was immediately enamored with it and bought the rest of this batch of tea to share with fellow tea enthusiasts.

This tea is a wonderful example of how a higher degree of roasting can enhance and dramatically change the entire sensory experience of an Ali Shan Oolong. It is a winter tea, which usually means that it does not have the same penetrating aroma as a spring tea, but winter teas tend to have a thicker mouthfeel and a more pronounced & lingering sweet aftertaste (Hui Gan).

This tea has a wonderful & lingering Hui Gan and a moderately thick mouthfeel, but what makes this tea different is the roast. Our friends/growers on Ali Shan consider this a fully roasted or highly roasted tea, but in my mind this tea really qualifies as a medium roast since the fresh and floral flavors come through in the cup and it is still quite visibly green when the leaves are steeped and fully open.

The medium degree of roasting really brings a complexity to the table that is just amazing to my palate…a toasty nuttiness combined with the orchid-floral sweetness of Ali Shan Oolong and the interplay of some dried fruit (peach or plum maybe?) flavors come together to make a simply delicious brew. This tea will easily yield 4-5 Gong-Fu style steepings before starting to lose its punch, and the Hui Gan (aftertaste) is lovely and lingering. A perfect tea for cooler weather.

Each order is a vacuum sealed 50 gram package with a desiccant pack shipped in a resealable high barrier stand up pouch for short term storage and to protect the tea once it has been removed from its vacuum packaging. Obviously, do not consume the desiccant pack, but keep it with the tea once the vacuum bag has been opened to absorb any moisture from the environment that might accumulate in the tea leaves. This tea is not suitable for storage over a period of months once the vacuum seal has been opened. Please consume within 30 days after opening for best flavor & aroma.

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5 Tasting Notes

76
1623 tasting notes

I had a bit more than a cup’s worth of tea leaves but not enough to make two, so this time around the tea is a little stronger. Its smell makes me think of puff-wheat cereal or maybe those puff-wheat dessert squares.

Despite the large quantity of leaf the bakey and nutty flavours don’t take on a charred quality like many of the roasted teas I’ve tried seem to. This tea has a lot of ‘substance’ to it that gives it a slightly malty quality as well.

The second steep tastes a bit greener but there’s a bit of a bitterness that creeped in as well when no one was looking. Hmm.

The third steep is a little bit weak and watery – it doesn’t seem to have as much staying power as other oolongs. Right now it’s just a slightly nutty, unremarkable tea taste. Now this might be because I’m not brewing it gong-fu style (as stated in my previous tasting note) but yeah, I’m a little disappointed as I can usually get three or four good, solid steepings out of most green oolongs.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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86
6770 tasting notes

The leaves are a dark green. The smell while infusing is a hard veggie scent. The leaves are taking a while to unwind. The liquid is typical oolong looking-type and the smell is that of slightly roasted veggies! The taste is a little nutty but pretty soothing. It’s interesting and fairly smooth!

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
deftea

Are you serious about 6 min steep from the beginning? I’ll give it a try if you say so. I was afraid to go 2 mins at first.

TeaEqualsBliss

I did 6, yes – maybe try 4 to 5 first and then if it’s still not what you were hoping for try 6 :P

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84
24 tasting notes

I’ve noticed that several people enjoy the fall and summer Alishans from Norbu. I think we should try to do a comparison of all the different Alishans there. But now I have only this 2008 winter version (which BTW is 35% reduced in price).
It’s difficult to add to the notes from the vendor and what TeaEqualsBliss has already posted. I would simply join in the enthusiasm for Norbu’s Taiwan teas.
This Alishan is from the same cultivar as the Norbu Old Plantation Qing Xin. I think this must be an exceedingly complex plant, given the experience of these two teas. And while in Taiwan this would be considered a certified organic tea, Norbu can’t market it that way because of different US laws. Nevertheless, the care that has gone into the making of this tea is very much evident in the tight dry rolls, but even more in the finished leaves, which are beautifully purply green and intact.
There is very little oxidation, I think, so the florals really come through. They are not as intense as other Alishans, however — more sober, more solid, more restraint. But the richness is amazing. It just rolls around in your mouth. There is a sweetness that makes you think someone has slipped in honey to your cup. The roast (notwithstanding the label “medium”) is very mild, much less roast that the Old Plantation Qing Xin. It’s really interesting to taste the difference that processing makes to the same tea cultivar. The same floral, veggie, and roasted notes as the Old Plantation are there in this tea, just arranged in a different chord. Very gentle but substantial. D-minor, I would say. Later infusions loose the complexity but not the sweet fullness. Pretty amazing.
I find this tea more meditative than other Alishans. It’s a tea you can stay with.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec
teaddict

I did this comparison last year, without the winter tea:

Posted 14 November 2009 – 05:41 PM

Working on the head-to-head comparison of the 2009 Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong Teas from norbutea.com. 2 grams each of the spring, summer, and fall teas, in gaiwans, about 2 ounces of water per infusion, with water that started at 185 degrees and then cooled because I was too lazy to keep reheating the kettle.

I think I am up to the 5th infusion or so, and all are just lovely teas. The spring and fall are very similar in flavor—very sweet, mellow, hay/straw/caramel notes, with the spring tea perhaps holding up little better with more infusions than the fall, and the summer tea is least sweet but more of the warm caramel notes—it just tastes more like fall and harvest than the fall tea does.

teaddict

At present I have the following in my cupboard, unopened (waiting for me to finish the spring 2009 TGY so I can break into them without guilt): summer 2009, winter 2009, and the 2 versions of spring 2010. Will do a head to head on these soon.

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