I find that I can’t really begin to get the writing engine turned over in the morning until I’ve had a cup of black tea, with all of the brain-jolting caffeine it contains…but I’ve also found that my body is happier if I ease into my day with something gentler than that. Oolongs and whites have become my default, but oolongs particularly: they are rich enough that I often feel I’ve eaten breakfast.
Among the many kinds of oolong in all of their glorious variety, Ali Shan is one of the most rewardingly aromatic. I could sit (and have sat) for full minutes with my nose buried in the cup, inhaling the way they smell.
This one I got as a one ounce sample from Tao of Tea (somewhat expensive compared to their other teas at 7.25 an ounce! Thank goodness for their frequent buyer program). I stick pretty closely to a 1tsp/8oz. setup, and always use my 16oz cup; I got to have plenty of cups of this — it resteeps well even at that quantity of water. Obviously I am lazy — I never once wrote a tasting note.
I don’t think that this shatters the mold in terms of the type of tea that it is, but it is a very good Ali Shan. I prefer this tea to the Four Seasons I have (which is comparable as a green oolong, if not necessarily exactly the same). You have a light honey scent, with a delicious, welcoming depth of flavor (I tend to think of the smell of baked potato, but I’m not sure that’s completely accurate — still, something about it says ‘starch’ to me), and a pleasant floral high end.
I should really spend more time trying more Ali Shan.