I’ve read some offhanded comments online by better tea tasters than myself relating to the quality of a few teas by saying things like “of course, Wang De Chuan offers this” but this is my first tea from that company. Wish they had an online shop, rather than just a physical presence in Taiwan so I could try more of their stuff.
This is a mighty green oolong, but not necessarily Jade. It’s definitely been well-roasted – it’s got this nice underlying caramely note in the dry fragrance, a bit of darkness to the green, and a pretty luster that makes the dry leaves look a bit insect-like. Flavor-wise, it has a lot more going for it than the Jade Alishans I’ve tried.
Dry fragrance is mostly creamy with a cattail-like vegetal base and that light caramelized sugar note.
Wet leaf aroma is cinnamon and warm cream when rinsed and after a few infusions takes on a more butter and orchid character.
Base liquor aroma suggests vegetation, but after a bit of the aroma lent from the flavor (nose) starts influencing things, it swings away from this.
Liquor is deep hanse yellow and perfectly clear.
Flavor is dynamic and expressive, with pretty different sets of flavors under different brewing times.
For this review, I used 4g/100mL in water 85-88C with three infusions at 1 min and the fourth at 2 min. Using shorter times and a tad more tea allows for more infusions and pushes buttery characteristics while a bit less tea and an infusion time up to 3:30 produces much fewer but well balanced body versus crispness and characteristics on the spicier side (with some molasses, ginger, and cookie dough notes not attainable in shorter brews).
Cinnamon stands way out. Taiwanese teas are supposed to be known for this characteristic, but I’ve only twice before had ones that expressed it more clearly than this. Aftertaste is distinctly similar to raisins. There’s a light, freshly baked bread quality and a toasty torn plant matter crispness that’s kinda hard to place, but is most similar to the smell of cut cattails to me. Moderate Body is largely unnoticed compared to the combined flavor and aroma.
More distinct flavor characters popping out. Steamed broccoli stalks, iris, sorrel, gravel, mustard greens, basil, romaine lettuce, bay leaf, and a little bit of white peppercorn and baby spinach. Aftertaste has rosemary and a touch of resinous leaves akin to eucalyptus or juniper. Late aftertaste has a dry juicy-spicy taste and mouthfeel very similar to eating a yellow plum. Body a little fuller than before.
Toasty-sweet macadamia nut expression. More mouthwatering now. Cinnamon is now more prevalent in the aftertaste, less obvious up front, and more like cassia/Saigon Cinnamon. Romaine and bit of spinach has been replaced by butter lettuce. Raised sweetness of infusion recedes and then pops back in. Sweetness, acidity, and light finishing dryness is pretty similar to the taste of cut up and microwaved Fuji Apple.
Thinner body and more vegetal-edgy. Leaves aroma of live bamboo in the mouth. Light pomelo bitterness and twiggy sweetness. Cooked apple is still there, but is significantly milder than previous infusion, though apple skin taste lingers and lingers.
Throughout all infusions, one particular set of flavors maintained itself either right in my face in the first infusion or as an underlying base in the fourth, and it totally tweaked my sense of smell. After the second swallow of the first infusion until a bit after the initial aftertaste of the fourth (the lingering light apple taste and nose from the late aftertaste of the fourth infusion is still with me half an hour later) I had the distinct mixture of flavors making up the sensation of warm cinnamon raisin bread with a touch of apple butter. Seriously mouthwatering, and makes me want to go out and buy the ingredients to make some french toast or bread pudding with cinnamon raisin bread… Very tasty, and not a quality I got at either shorter or longer infusion sets, though I changed concentration alongside the time shifts in those.
Really tasty tea. I didn’t think I’d be getting a yummy Alishan until at least this year’s harvest since the area was pretty beaten up by a typhoon a couple years ago and what I’ve had since then hasn’t been as stellar. Maybe this company had even better examples before and will later – I may have to bug some folks headed to Taiwan to pick up some tea for me later this year so I can find out.