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Recent Tasting Notes
This is another winter ’09 tea that Brett brought back with him from his annual tea buying trip to Taiwan! (Check out his fun tea blog at http://www.blackdragonteabar.blogspot.com/).
I know nothing about this tea except that it’s a winter oolong from Taiwan, and that it’s exactly the flavor profile that I love and have missed ever since I tried a small castaway sample from an anonymous tea farmer, when I worked for Teance in 2008. It’s amazing how our brain stores impressions and can bring it up suddenly when, two years later, I’m sipping a cup of a completely different tea.
The hard part is translating that impression into words. This tea is more roasted than the Li Shan and Da Yu Ling that BDTB also sells right now, but it still maintains that light, green sweetness. However, layered on top of that floral greenness is this perfect spice note. Nutmeg, clove, and sweet incense waft lightly through the tea without stealing the show.
If greener oolongs like baochong remind me of the springtime, this tea reminds me of that transition between summer and fall, when the days are getting cooler. You welcome the change in seasons, but aren’t quite ready to let go of that bright warmth quite yet. There’s just a hint of what’s to come.
I was extremely excited to order three Taiwanese winter oolongs from my friend Brett at Black Dragon Tea Bar (see his highly entertaining tea blog at http://www.blackdragonteabar.blogspot.com/). He never fails to bring back amazing teas and teaware from his annual Taiwan tea buying trip. I’m more familiar with spring oolongs, so I was curious to try a few winter ones!
This Lishan brewed up a cheerful golden yellow, with that familiar creamy floral note that I do love so much. However, unlike its springtime cousins, this tea was more about the savory than the sweet! For the longest time I couldn’t place the flavor I was thinking of.. I was ticking through some famliar adjectives in my head.. “hmm, sweet? floral? vegetal?” then finally I could place the note: Applesauce! The tea has a sweet fruitiness, but also that savory note from home-cooked warm, thick, applesauce with a dash of cinnamon.
My first time brewing this tea was in a porcelain gaiwan, and I used a tad cooler water, which I do sometimes to try to enhance some of the lighter floral notes. It seemed a tad flat, so my second try with this tea I used a yixing pot and hotter water. That made the leaves much happier. It was definitely made for hotter water, and it made savory note round and sweet.
It’s interesting. I don’t know much about winter Lishans, but this one at least had a very "umami"note. Usually umami is a term used to describe the buttery, velvety mouth-feel of a Japanese green tea. But with this Lishan also possessed these characteristics, at least to me!
I’m still having fun playing with brewing temperature and technique for this one. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover another flavor next time. Blueberry sauce? Pasta sauce? Stay tuned…