Fo Shou is an interesting oolong cultivar. Known for its large leaves said to resemble the palm of a hand when completely unfurled, it is better known today as a Taiwanese oolong, though it originally comes from mainland China. This particular Fo Shou is part of Li Xiangxi’s collection and is a product of the spring 2015 harvest. The darker roast on this tea has allowed it to hold up very well.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I then followed this infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, a sniff of the dry tea leaves was quick to reveal pronounced aromas of dark chocolate, pine, pipesmoke, tobacco, bergamot, and char. After the rinse, the dark chocolate, pine, tobacco, and char aromas intensified somewhat. The first infusion produced a similar, though fruitier and more floral aroma, as mild lime and rose scents were just barely detectable. In the mouth, I detected strong notes of dark wood, pipesmoke, dark chocolate, char, pine, minerals, tobacco, and bergamot balanced by interesting notes of fresh kiwi, rose, and lime. Subsequent infusions were fruitier and more floral, offering stronger kiwi, lime, rose, and bergamot notes balanced by wood, char, tobacco, pipesmoke, minerals, and a lingering hint of dark chocolate. The later infusions were mild and mellow. As expected, the mineral aromas and flavors were considerably stronger than in the earlier infusions. I could still detect traces of pine, char, lime, tobacco, and dark wood, though I also began to note a slight buttery quality at this point.

Having researched this tea a little, I find myself both agreeing with and chuckling at part of Verdant’s tasting note. They described this tea as tasting like temple incense and Buddhist prayer beads, and well, I definitely see that. Like a lot of the teas released by Verdant as part of Li Xiangxi’s collection, this one is both challenging and tremendously rewarding. It also fades just a little sooner than I would like. Still, those early and middle infusions pack quite a wallop in terms of aroma and flavor. I would recommend this tea highly to open-minded tea drinkers who admire the complexity and quirky aroma and flavor profiles of classic Wuyi oolongs.

Flavors: Bergamot, Butter, Char, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Fruity, Lime, Mineral, Pine, Rose, Smoke, Tobacco

Boiling 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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