2009 Winter Jin Xuan - Taiwan Green Tea

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Green Tea
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160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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2 Tasting Notes View all

  • “The mood was green this morning, so I just picked first and best unflavoured green out of the basket. This process was made a lot easier by the fact that I’m not so set in my ways with greens as I...” Read full tasting note
  • “1.9 grams of tea (was aiming for 2.0, but got tired of adding & subtracting little bits) in small gaiwans, about 60-75mL water And I took photos this time, watching the unfurling infusion by...” Read full tasting note

From Norbu Tea

This unique Winter Harvest 2009 green tea comes from a 4,000 ft elevation (1,200 M) tea garden in the Aowanda area of Jenai Township in Nantou County, Central Taiwan. This green tea is made from a tea cultivar known as Jin Xuan, which is usually processed into a mildly fragrant oolong tea. Strangely enough, I was not a fan of the Jin Xuan cultivar at all until I tasted this green tea. I had only tasted very inexpensive oolongs produced from Jin Xuan, and I found them to be really flat & uninteresting specimens. Not so with this green tea!

These Jin Xuan plants are allowed to grow in a natural/semi wild state on this particular tea plantation. As can be seen in the photographs, the plants were obviously planted in rows for commercial cultivation, but they are not cropped to facilitate easy picking & encourage high yield. They just grow naturally without human interference aside from plucking. This enables the plant to grow to a much healthier & more hearty state which, in turn, produces a tea with better body and a more robust character.

This Jin Xuan green tea was hand picked and processed in early November, 2009. It was processed in the ball-shape style typical of the oolong teas that this “high mountain” region is famous for. The ball shape is actually a bonus for us because we can vacuum seal this green tea to maintain freshness much longer than if we packaged it without vacuum. Most green teas lose their fresh taste and vibrant green color within about 6 months after harvest, but sealing this tea away from oxygen in the vacuum packages will allow this tea to remain fresh for more than 12-18 months if it is left sealed.

As with other green teas, the flavor of this tea is fresh, grassy, mildly astringent and somewhat vegetal, but, unlike most green teas, there is a very mildly sweet & floral character present in the aroma and flavor that balances beautifully with the more typical “green tea” type flavors.

On a personal level, I really am enjoying this tea, and I am very pleased to be able to offer it for your enjoyment.

Steeping Directions: Green tea should be steeped at about 175 F (80 C) in order to avoid extracting astringent flavor compounds or scalding the leaves. I like to steep this tea Gongfu style in a Gaiwan, and if you are careful with water temperature it can be infused several times. It also works perfectly to steep this tea in the western manner.

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2 Tasting Notes

1353 tasting notes

The mood was green this morning, so I just picked first and best unflavoured green out of the basket. This process was made a lot easier by the fact that I’m not so set in my ways with greens as I am with blacks. Had the mood been for a black tea this morning, choosing one would have involved a whole lot more dithering.

Anyway, this sample contained, I think, just about the right amount of leaf for my brewing preferences and the leaves were large and a nice, bright green colour. They looked happy and lively, and made me expect a flavour with lots of pizzazz in it.

It’s surprisingly light in colour though. Even after a whole minute’s steeping, it’s still very pale. Most green teas, at this point, will be very yellow in my experience.

The aroma is quite light as well. It’s very difficult to find it, even when sticking my nose so close to it, it’s almost getting dipped. When I do find it, though, it’s quite fruity. I’m reminded of pineapple and green apples, and not really finding any of the vegetative grassy notes.

It’s incredibly delicate in flavour. It’s so frail and shy, I almost expect it to blush when sipping it. Unfortunately, the fruity notes that I found in the aroma are not carrying over into the flavour. Shame, I had quite looked forward to a naturally occurring pineapple note. Some of the apple-y note is still there, but it’s not in any really significant amount.

It’s a rather floral flavour, in a not scented to death sort of way. Naturally occurring little flowers that nobody is paying attention to because they’re just weeds. It doesn’t really have any significant grassy notes. There is some of it there, but it’s so delicate that it barely registers. These are some great notes, but I should have liked for them to be stronger. A little less shy and blushing and a little more ‘look out, world! Here I come!’

This is not really a tea that one can easily pick apart like this. It doesn’t work like that. A flavour this delicate should be viewed more in the big picture, which is lightly floral, mild and sweet. Not really suitable for a morning tea, however green the mood may be, but later in the day it would be a really nice choice. Imagine coming home from work, tired and stressed, and then sitting down with a cup of this tea. Just quietly sipping a cup without paying attention to the rest of the world for a few minutes. Zen.


nice description and a good way of intertwinning the thoughts and the flavors


I think one of the philosophical reasons I drink tea is that, done properly, it does require you to sit down and breathe … wait for the kettle … wait for the steep … sip and wait for it to cool … ahh.

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311 tasting notes

1.9 grams of tea (was aiming for 2.0, but got tired of adding & subtracting little bits) in small gaiwans, about 60-75mL water

And I took photos this time, watching the unfurling infusion by infusion: see my flickr set here


The flash rinse barely started to unfurl anything

Started timidly, 30" at 160 degrees: warm, vegetal, sweet but the infusion is a little too short/dilute

1 minutes at same temp: vegetal flavors of peas, grass, lightly floral background, no hint of bitterness, much better match of infusion time and tea. Used the aroma cup set for this, and it was fun, sweet fresh mown grass odors.

90" third infusion, sweet, vegetal, delicate, love it love it, the best yet

2’ a little hotter, 170 degrees, slight astringency but still mostly vegetal

3’ 180 degrees, and better than the previous, sweet, vegetal, such a nice tea

5’ 190 degrees, and the tea is done: barely more flavor than hot water.

Large lovely leaves are now mostly unfurled, but I couldn’t get them to completely flatten long enough to shoot the picture

Next time, 1 min, 90", 2 min, 3 min, 8 min?

I was lucky enough to get some of the spring version of this tea, and quite sad when I went to reorder it and found it was sold out. This is an entirely worthy successor.

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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