Okay, here is my final review for the day. This one comes from a little further back in my 2021 review notebook, but not from the first half of the year. I only had an 8g sample pouch of this tea, and I finished it back in either late July or early August. At the time, I was prioritizing some of the 2018 and 2019 teas that I needed to finish, so getting through the small amount of this tea that I had represented a quick sipdown. Prior to trying this tea, my experiences with Old Ways Tea’s Old Tree Shui Xian were largely great, and I had very high expectations for this offering. Though it did not live up to those lofty expectations, it was still a very satisfying, solid offering overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 18 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, wood, blackberry, black raspberry, and black cherry. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and pomegranate emerged along with much subtler aromas of char and smoke. The first infusion introduced very faint scents of grass, chocolate, and orchid. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of roasted almond, orchid, cream, wood, roasted peanut, blueberry, and blackberry that were chased by hints of black raspberry, black cherry, pomegranate, butter, grass, chocolate, cinnamon, char, pear, and smoke. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, roasted barley, cream, minerals, plum, blueberry, and red grape. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of butter, black cherry, char, grass, pomegranate, and black raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, earth, plum, orange zest, red grape, roasted barley, and popcorn. Hints of butterscotch and toasted rice could also be detected. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, cream, wood, roasted almond, grass, roasted barley, and orange zest that were backed up by lingering hints of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, red grape, popcorn, pomegranate, char, cinnamon, and butterscotch.
This tea produced a liquor that displayed a great deal of depth and complexity as well as good body and texture in the mouth, but I felt that some of its aroma and flavor components were slightly unbalanced. There were sips on which certain aromas and flavors seemed to pop out and dominate, and that produced a very up-and-down drinking experience. I was also hoping to get something new and unique out of this tea, since each of the previous offerings of this variety that I had tried from Old Ways Tea had differentiated themselves from one another in terms of what they had to offer. That wound up not really being the case with this tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it reminded me of the 2018 Old Tree Shui Xian, but pricklier and more uneven. Still, this was far from a bad offering. As a matter of fact, I found it to be a more or less very good tea. I was just hoping for it to strike me as being a more or less excellent tea like its predecessors had, and it did not do that.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butterscotch, Char, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Popcorn, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted Rice, Wood