Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout

Tea type
Oolong Tea
Ingredients
Not available
Flavors
Apricot, Brown Sugar, Caramelized Sugar, Cinnamon, Cotton Candy, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Ginger, Honey, Mineral, Popcorn, Round, Silky, Smooth, Spring Water, Stonefruit, Sweet, Sweet Corn, Thick, Caramel, Kettle Corn, Broccoli, Grass, Lime, Menthol, Orange Zest, Spices, Spinach, Camphor, Flowers, Passion Fruit, Pecan, Pine
Sold in
Loose Leaf
Caffeine
Medium
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Cameron B.
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec 5 g 12 oz / 356 ml

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We don't know when or if this item will be available.

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7 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Sipdown! (5 | 5) Another swap sample from a kind Instagram tea friend. Wow, is this a sweet tea! Oodles of brown sugar, honey, sweet corn, some spun sugar as well. A bit of a toasty popcorn note...” Read full tasting note
    88
  • “Gongfu! Someone brought this into the office for us all to try because they were curious to see if we’d agree with the tasting notes of “kettle corn and cotton candy”. I have to say, I am of mixed...” Read full tasting note
  • “Among my favorites, this winter sprout tastes unmistakably like cotton candy. Not that it’s super sweet; it’s literally the flavor of cotton candy. And it’s very forgiving of temperature, even...” Read full tasting note
    80
  • “This tea was sweet like a baked good, hits you in the face with wonderful notes of brown sugar, cornbread, caramel, etc. The downside is it only survives 2 or 3 infusions. I can see why it has a...” Read full tasting note
    83

From Song Tea & Ceramics

Notes of caramelized ginger, kettle corn, and cotton candy.

Oolong tea from Taiwan・January 2021・杉林溪不知春・Unsprayed

Our Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout is only available when weather conditions are ideal. The current stock was picked in January 2021. Low temperatures at the start of the year trigger a weather hardening of these tea leaves that increases sugar and nutrient storage.

There are several names for this tea. Winter Sprout is dong pian in Chinese. The locals also like to call this bu zhi chun, which translates poetically to “never know spring,” a reference to tea leaves harvested before the arrival of warmer weather.

The source garden is on Shan Lin Xi, located 1500m above sea level. The harvested tea consist of single or paired leaves that have sprouted in several areas along the upper branches, which renders them distinctly different in appearance from standard spring or winter harvest teas. After shade withering, crafting is done entirely by hand – the leaves are bruised on woven bamboo trays, allowed a long, 40+ hour low-temperature oxidation, then rolled in small batches inside canvas bags, and roasted. Finally, the tea is baked at a low temperature to decrease moisture content and enhance sweetness and complexity. This 2021 reverts to the tightly rolled version we offered in 2019.

The unique flavor profile of Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout comes from a combination of the harvest time and craftsmanship. The tea maker accentuates the accumulated flavor and aromatic compounds of the tea with unusually long oxidation and baking times. The result is altogether unique, and delicious.

About Song Tea & Ceramics View company

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7 Tasting Notes

88
2725 tasting notes

Sipdown! (5 | 5)

Another swap sample from a kind Instagram tea friend.

Wow, is this a sweet tea! Oodles of brown sugar, honey, sweet corn, some spun sugar as well. A bit of a toasty popcorn note as well, along with rich dried stonefruit notes that remind me of apricot fruit leather. Among these is also the more usual clear mineral notes and thick, sumptuously silky texture that I often find in greener oolong. There’s a touch of gentle floral as well, especially near the end of the sip.

Reading the description, I can totally taste the crystallized ginger note as well, even if I’m not astute enough to describe it on my own he he. A very interesting and unusual oolong, and I’m thankful for having a chance to try it because of the kindness of friends! :3

Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Caramelized Sugar, Cinnamon, Cotton Candy, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Ginger, Honey, Mineral, Popcorn, Round, Silky, Smooth, Spring Water, Stonefruit, Sweet, Sweet Corn, Thick

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
gmathis

What a nice treat!

knittingopera

That sounds delightful!

Cameron B.

Just looked at the price tag and almost fainted, wowza! $22 for 30 grams?! I wouldn’t say it’s that good, lol.

knittingopera

woah! that’s expensive! sometimes it is worth it and sometimes you go… maybe when it is on sale?

Leafhopper

Wow, that’s expensive for a Shan Lin Xi! I remember looking at their website, and their porcelain teaware in particular, and wondering if their high prices were justified.

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12915 tasting notes

Gongfu!

Someone brought this into the office for us all to try because they were curious to see if we’d agree with the tasting notes of “kettle corn and cotton candy”. I have to say, I am of mixed opinion. The session was overall really lovely and I greatly enjoyed the tea. Over my six or seven steeps, I got a a wide array of light to medium bodied notes throughout the session: airy sweet sugar snaps, ginger lily, kettle corn, and orchid to name a few! So, I suppose I’d say kettle corn is accurate (for me at least – taste is subjective) but cotton candy feels like a bit of a stretch. I suppose you could argue for that “light and airy sweetness” being interpreted as cotton candy, though.

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CR93HoXr5Rm/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzV2A7BM8TM&ab_channel=GingerRoot

Leafhopper

I’ve sometimes gotten corn notes from Taiwanese oolong, so this might not be too much of a stretch. :)

Daylon R Thomas

The only straight oolong I’ve gotten a cotton candy note for was a Dayuling, but even then, it was more along the lines of candy floss. I’ve gotten corn notes from oolong pretty often though. I’ve always wanted to try Song Tea and Ceramics, but never have mostly due to pricing.

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80
39 tasting notes

Among my favorites, this winter sprout tastes unmistakably like cotton candy. Not that it’s super sweet; it’s literally the flavor of cotton candy. And it’s very forgiving of temperature, even given how green it is. I used to be very careful with cooling the water to 205, but I’ve found you can just throw boiling water on and get what are arguably more interesting experiences out of it.

Flavors: Cotton Candy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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83
218 tasting notes

This tea was sweet like a baked good, hits you in the face with wonderful notes of brown sugar, cornbread, caramel, etc. The downside is it only survives 2 or 3 infusions. I can see why it has a cult following, especially among Westerners with more of a sweet tooth. (2016 harvest)

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Kettle Corn

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89
149 tasting notes

This is the winter sprout from 2014 (I need to note this as Song currently has their 2015 winter sprout available). Subtle oolong flavor with a slight sweetness to it, almost berry-like. I suppose this is the kettle corn flavor they mention in their notes, but it’s coming across as more of a fruity sweetness to me. Very mild, delicate flavor, and the scent of the dry leaves is lovely. I had several steepings, I think maybe five or six, and the flavor held up well, not transforming really, but just intensifying a little with each steep. Could be because I kept increasing brewing time.

Preparation
4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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96
14 tasting notes

Arguably one of the most sophisticated teas I have had the pleasure to try. I received this as a gift and decided to try it in three steepings, per the previous review. It did not disappoint, although I had drastically different, pleasant notes!

On the first steeping, I noticed tingly, mentholated noted alongside the pine and grassy flavors of the oolong, less creaminess and more of a citrus-forward scent and flavor, with notes of tangerine, yuzu, kefir lime, and green grass on the nose. The flavor was abuzz and left my tongue on fire with a panoply of flavors that lasted on the palate for a while. Per the instructions, I steeped this for one minute with 6g at 205 degrees.

I steeped my second round for two minutes and noticed more gentle flavors that aligned more with the tasting notes on the package- spun sugar, light pickled ginger at the forefront with a slight herbaceous flavor on the back palate and a hint of Asian spices. Still strong on the second steeping although I was conservative with my measurements as this is a tea I wish to savor.

The third steeping was more aggressively saline than the last two. It loses most of the sweetness from the first two steepings but retains the light vegetal flavors characteristic of the leaves- spinach, broccoli, and a light brown sugar note. Each sip is round and full. I don’t know if using a slightly more modified concentration of water to tea would accommodate for more steepings, but for this amount it was a highly pleasurable experience. This is a tea I will enjoy for a long time to come- a definite bucket list steep.

Flavors: Broccoli, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Ginger, Grass, Lime, Menthol, Orange Zest, Spices, Spinach

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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97
306 tasting notes

The scent of these large rolled tea leaves is fruity, nutty, and creamy. Shan Lin Xi is my favorite region for rolled oolong, so I’m excited to try this winter picked variety. An initial infusion really opens up the aroma of the leaves, and it’s incredibly fragrant, with plentiful bouquets of flower scents and a very forward plum aroma.

The first infusion is very rich and sweet, the predominant fruit note being of nectarine with a long lingering passion fruit flavor. At the front of the sip is also a creamy nutty taste that reminds me of pecan.

The second infusion has more of the evergreen forest notes I usually pick up in Shan Lin Xi, while the taste is still creamy and quite floral now. The aftertaste is peachy. The aroma is floral and camphor.

The third infusion is much more mellowed, with a honeyed taste and a bit of a camphor or clove note in the back of the throat. This infusion is a really enjoyable an subtle wind-down from the bursting and fragrant second infusion.

The fourth infusion has receded to a much more subtle creamy flavor with a lingering floral aftertaste. The fifth is even more subtle, and sweeter.

I don’t see this tea pushing out many more infusions with substantial flavor, but every one of them has been top notch. It tastes so clean. This is one of the best rolled oolong teas I’ve had!

Flavors: Camphor, Creamy, Flowers, Honey, Passion Fruit, Pecan, Pine

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Red Fennekin

Sounds amazing :O

Single Origin Teas

Glad you enjoyed it!

Lion

This tea also taught me what a difference a brewing vessel can make. I brewed this the first time in a 80ml sized white jade porcelain gaiwan, almost eggshell thin. When I tried some more of this tea in a small 100ml gongfu teapot with slightly thicker walls, it came out with really muddled flavors and a dryer texture. The overall effect is sort of just “nutty, vegetal” with a bit of astringency in the finish. Had I brewed it this way to begin with, I’d have thought it wasn’t very good tea. Don’t let anyone tell you Gongfu brewing is easy! It can really produce very different results depending on your approach.

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