Okay, I finally seem to have more regular access to Steepster. For the better part of two weeks, I was either so busy that I had no time to contribute anything or could not log into my account due to constant 503 errors. Hopefully, things will change from this point forward. A lot has gone on since I posted my last set of reviews. Most significantly, I interviewed for a job at the local community college. I hadn’t been consistently looking for a new job for the better part of a year, and the few applications I submitted in that time did not net me any interviews. As a matter of fact, I had not been to a job interview since September 2018 prior to this last one. Unlike that earlier interview, I didn’t walk away from this last interview with a terrible feeling, so I guess that’s a good sign. At this point, I’m not sure I expect to be offered this job, though I hope I do receive the offer. Anyway, I did not feel like digging through notes from the summer, so I decided to take the opportunity to review a tea I polished off more recently. I only had a sample pouch of this tea to work with, and I finished it in a single day back around the start of last week. I was not expecting much out of it due to my strong preference for charcoal roasted Wuyi oolongs, but honestly, this was a very nice tea. It didn’t rival Old Ways Tea’s regular 2017 Huang Guan Yin, but for what it was, it was very good.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted aromas of cinnamon, roasted almond, nutmeg, cream, strawberry, and raspberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, orange zest, blackberry, and blueberry. The first infusion saw the strawberry aroma increase in strength while new aromas of vanilla and red grape appeared alongside subtle smoky scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, roasted almond, orange zest, butter, blueberry, and blackberry that were backed by hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, grass, smoke, black cherry, and raspberry. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of roasted peanut, grass, roasted grain, roasted beechnut, malt, and peach as well as subtler scents of grape leaf and green olive. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of grass, smoke, black cherry, and raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, roasted grain, roasted peanut, roasted beechnut, peach, and plum. Impressions of red grape and vanilla also emerged, and some hints of grape leaf, green olive, strawberry, and malt could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, cream, butter, grass, roasted peanut, and roasted grain notes that were accompanied by an amplified malt presence and hints of green olive, smoke, grape leaf, roasted almond, roasted beechnut, vanilla, and orange zest.
Electric roasts generally do not allow the the full range of a tea’s quirks and complexities to shine, but this one was not overpowering and seemed to have been very skillfully applied, so that was not the case here. In truth, I’m used to cheap, rough electric roasted oolongs that kind of smell and taste like ashes or burnt toast, so my expectations were low going into the drinking session detailed in the previous paragraph. I was most certainly not expecting a very delicate, complex, playful tea with tons of aroma and flavor components. Still, this tea did start to fade sooner than I hoped it would, and having tried Old Ways Tea’s charcoal roasted 2017 Huang Guan Yin several months prior to this tea, I could tell that this was a lower quality offering. It just did not quite have the depth or balance of that tea. All in all, I still consider this a very good offering. If you’re the sort of person who thinks of electric roasted Wuyi oolongs as low quality teas with an overpowering ashy or smoky presence, this tea would certainly surprise you.
Flavors: Almond, Almond, Blackberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butter, Cherry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Cream, Grain, Grain, Grapes, Grapes, Grass, Grass, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutmeg, Nutty, Nutty, Olives, Olives, Orange Zest, Orange Zest, Peach, Peach, Peanut, Peanut, Plum, Plum, Raspberry, Raspberry, Roasted, Roasted, Smoke, Smoke, Strawberry, Strawberry, Vanilla, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal