This was an interesting and unexpected tea. I was expecting a lush, flowery Ali Shan but was surprised by the Dong Ding like toastiness. Turns out I didn’t read the description carefully and this was in fact a baked tea. TTC explains that the Ali Shan competition requires teas to be lightly baked yet still maintain their aromatics. Indeed the fragrance is the most interesting aspect of this tea that sets it apart from typical high mountain oolongs.
Out of the bag, the tea looks and smells like a green oolong. Its got a fruity aroma that reminds me of cantaloupe. Following a rinse, there are new aromas of papaya, almond, roasted stone fruit, and daffodils. The tea begins with a mellow fruitiness and a little oats/grain like nuttiness. Wildflowers briefly appear during the second steeping accompanied by a very subtle roasted note. As it steeps, it picks up a honeyed sweetness and tongue coating mouthfeel. The aroma though is what stands out to me. Normally it would degrade over time but here it astonishingly builds up and evolves during the course of the session. In addition to the notes described above, I caught whiffs of lychee, cooked peaches, and nectar. Even as the tea started petering out around the 4th infusion, the aromatics remained strong and are partly why I pushed this to 8 steeps. The longevity of the aroma was better than that of its flavor.
Though the flavor was different than what I expected, I found this tea enjoyable. For a baked tea, it’s definitely closer to the green end of the spectrum. However, I don’t feel the light roasting added much to the tea. It loses the top notes in exchange for a vague toastiness and some warmth. Straddling an odd middle ground between an Ali Shan and a Dong Ding, it gives a nod to both while lacking the complexity of either.
Flavors: Fruity, Melon, Peach, Toasty