I was introduced to Shan Shui Teas at the Boulder Tea Festival when I took an Oolong class given by Brian Wright, Importer of the tea’s for this company.
I was delighted to share one of the many tasting tables with Chadao (another Steepster that I met) and 3 other tea lovers.
Each table had a large thermos of boiling water, a Gaiwan, pitcher, discard water pot, and each person had a small aroma cup and tasting cup..
I was offered the Gaiwan to serve (being the oldest) but declined (being the klutz).
Chadao served, then the others through 5 different types of Oolong with three to four steepings of each tea. ( 20 little servings of tea )
This was absolute HEAVEN! I had SUCH A GOOD TIME! There is little else that makes me happy…than picking out the scent and flavor in tea and food. I love it. (Usually noone is around when I go tea crazy!)
The Foshou 2011 Winter Oolong, was my favorite of the tastings.
By the time we arrived at this tasting I was a bit tea high!
There was an old lady at the next table who tried to shush me. I ignored her. She should have been at a book review at the library!
The dry scent was smoky. Wet, the leaves smelled like sticky rice and something else that I didn’t share outloud just yet.
We all were comfortable about sharing what we smelled and tasted by this time. It seemed that all eyes and ears turned to me for opinions on what nuances I was coming up with at each round. Writing on Steepster creates a habit of having opinions I’d say.
When the tea was poured into my aroma cup and I upended the liquid into the tasting cup…I put my nose into it and smelled the tea scent.
I blurted out “POT!” (which I’m sure Old Fart lady heard…sigh…) and everyone at the table shook their heads In unison agreeing that it was exactly the scent of the tea.
I quickly followed with “Well, I lived in the 60’s”…and then…“Oh the scent just changed to sweet pipe tobacco.” (Which it had in the most delicious golden hued way.)
The sweet pipe tobacco scent stayed within the aroma cup throughout the remaining steepings with some muscat grape addition later on.
The flavor of the tea was toasty but light and the liquor pale yellow beige. It began with sticky rice then on the second infusion bosc pear which was faintly sweet..
The third steeping was golden toast colored with a muscat grape flavor and subtle cool hint of mint. There was never any astringency even when the tea cooled down. The mouthfeel was light and smooth, elegant and complex.
The many levels of scent and flavor reminded me so much of a wine I tasted once in Paso Robles. I stood at an oak bar in the winery with the vineyard owner/winemaker and took a drink of a wine that hit my tastbuds with such force that the flavor morphed over and over like tumbling down a flight of stairs…and it shocked me.
The winemaker stood watching my face and smiled. “You know enough”, he said, “You understand.”
That’s what I want. I want to have the ability to catch the clues, to understand.
He was wrong about knowing enough though. That will never happen. I wouldn’t want it to. There would be no fun in discovery which is the delight that I was able to experience in sharing the tasting of this tea with others at the table last weekend.