Here we have another sample pile discovery. I remember buying 10 grams of this tea about the time it went out of stock. Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company no longer lists it, but I have recently seen a listing for a Li Shan oolong on their website. I’m guessing it is either the same tea under a different name or a similar tea that was introduced to replace this one. Whatever the case, this was a mild, creamy Li Shan with a pronounced grassy, vegetal character.
I ended up preparing this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. I 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, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. So, I went with a more or less mainland Chinese brewing approach again. It may not be optimal for this style of tea, but I wanted to see how long this one would go.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas of cream, butter, sweetgrass, vanilla, and flowers. After the rinse, the floral aromas became a little clearer. I got hints of gardenia, honeysuckle, lilac, and hyacinth. The first infusion produced a similar bouquet. In the mouth, the liquor was very light, offering fleeting impressions of sweetgrass, cream, butter, vanilla, and an extremely distant, vague mix of flowers. Subsequent infusions were similarly mild. Sometimes the floral notes seemed a little more pronounced, other times they didn’t. I thought I caught faint impressions of custard, pear, and peach at times, but I could have been reaching. For the most part, this just remained a creamy, buttery, grassy tea throughout. Later infusions introduced a hint of minerals, but that was about it.
Hmm, I found this one hard to score numerically. There is so much about it that I just don’t know. For one thing, I have no clue which harvest this one came from because the sample pouch failed to provide this information. I bought this sample sometime back around June or July and it has been stored pretty carefully since, so unless this was old to begin with, I kind of doubt it has faded that much. That, however, is the thing with high mountain oolongs and greener oolongs in general-one can never really predict how long they will last and how well they will respond to any length of time in storage. I’ve had at least one 1-2 year old oolong that was spectacular, whereas I have had one or two others that weren’t worth writing about after less than 6 months. I also know that extremely light, timid, vegetal Li Shan is a thing, and since the two other reviewers commented on how light and vegetal this tea was, perhaps this one happened to be one of those. All I know is that I tend to look for more floral, fruity, nectar-like qualities in high mountain oolongs, so needless to say, this one did not quite do it for me.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Peach, Pear