Aged Fo Shou Oolong - 2001 Fujian Oolong Tea

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Oolong Tea
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205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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  • “Aged Fo Shou Oolong – 2001 Fujian Oolong Tea 3 grams of plummy, chocolate-scented dark twisted and compacted leaves in a small unglazed porcelain pot; flash rinse; about 120 mL water 205 degrees,...” Read full tasting note

From Norbu Tea

Harvest: Fall, 2001
Varietal: Fo Shou
Growing Region: Yong Chun County, Quanzhou Pref., Fujian
This Fo Shou Oolong comes from Yong Chun County, just north of Anxi County in Southern-Central Fujian province (Yong Chun Google Map). It was picked and processed in the Fall harvest season of 2001 and has been aging in Fujian since then. This tea was only roasted/baked once as the finishing step of processing, then it was packed away in air tight containers and left to age for 10 years.

Flavor & Aroma:
When steeped, this aged Fo Shou unfurls its quite large, twisted leaves and yields a clear, light amber liquor. Initial infusions are marked by an almost musty, peaty or aged flavor and aroma that reminds me a bit of certain aspects of a 10+/- year aged Pu-Erh tea along with background elements of the sweet, spicy, dried fruit (raisins?) and floral-type flavors more commonly associated with oolong teas. With subsequent infusions, the aged flavor fades, allowing the more classic oolong type flavors to take the lead. The hui gan (aftertaste) provides a distinctively aged/sweet feeling that builds slowly over several infusions.

About the name “Fo Shou” (佛手; fóshǒu):
Fo Shou (佛手) translates as “Buddha’s Hand” in English. This term can refer generally to Citron, which is a type/category of citrus fruit, or it can be used to refer to a specific citrus variety with distinctive “fingers,” known as Buddha’s Hand Citron. Sometimes Fo Shou is translated as “Bergamot,” another type of citron, the oil of which is commonly used in perfumes and in the flavoring of teas such as Earl Grey. From what I have been told, the name Fo Shou is given to this tea because the leaves resemble the leaves of the citron trees found in this part of Fujian, which makes perfect sense to me because I have never detected a particularly citrusy flavor in any of the Fo Shou Oolongs I have been lucky enough to try.

Steeping Guideline:
To steep this tea, I really only recommend Gong-Fu style steeping. I personally found that steeping this tea western style with a low leaf to water ratio didn’t make a very interesting or dynamic brew, and using more leaf and short steeps really allows the different layers of flavor to slowly reveal themselves, as well as allows the aftertaste to build in the mouth and reveal itself slowly. My preference is to fill my gaiwan about 1/3 full of dry leaves, use water just off the boil, do a quick rinse, and use a 10-15 second first steep followed by gradually increasing the time of the subsequent steeps.

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1 Tasting Note

311 tasting notes

Aged Fo Shou Oolong – 2001 Fujian Oolong Tea
3 grams of plummy, chocolate-scented dark twisted and compacted leaves in a small unglazed porcelain pot; flash rinse; about 120 mL water 205 degrees, first infusion 20 seconds
strongly earthy, but also fruity and tart—not in the sweet dark almost prune notes I usually think of as plummy, but more like a tart, barely ripe plum, yet very mellow—needed to steep longer, despite sitting a few minutes after the flash rinse—seems like it wasn’t yet releasing as much flavor as it was absorbing water for this infusion
(this tartness seems to distinguish it from an aged puerh)
But it might in part be extra bitterness from fresh roasting….so I’m putting it in one of the yixings to air out a bit.
[I suddenly have a reason to buy a couple of nice ceramic tea caddies, just for times like this, when I want the tea to air out just a bit.]

And a week or so later, I’m drinking it again, and less of the bitterness is there—it DID need to air out a bit, and Greg had told me the sample he sent had been just re-roasted the day before. It is still fruity and tart and dark but the bitter is muted, and I’m enjoying it more. This is not a mellow, sip-while-working-on-something-else tea: a little slip with the infusion time and I’m back to bitter char.
It’s very interesting stuff, and I’ll enjoy working with the rest of this sample, but it’s not going to make it into my regular rotation, because there are too many teas I like better, that are not so demanding. But given how dilute I’m preparing it, I anticipate many, many more infusions before I’m done.

Editing to add: still getting interesting liquid from this packed gaiwan after at least two dozen steeps. Impressive stamina, but I did overstuff it.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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