Before I get to the meatier bits of this review, allow me to explain my numerical scoring of this tea in advance. My review session for this tea was interrupted by work. I started working my way through a sample pouch of this tea last Sunday, ended up having to leave my house in the middle of my review session to help my dad with some farm work, and then came back home between two and three hours later. I resumed my session at that point, but ended up having to leave again shortly thereafter to run errands for my mother. This occurrence necessitated me setting this tea aside for another hour before I could finally finish my session. These two lengthy interruptions caused something that should have taken a couple of hours take most of the day. Normally I will not assign Dayuling teas scores over 90 unless they really blow me away, but since this tea proved so resilient and adaptable, I bumped up what was going to be a score in the high 80s by a couple points. I found it to be a very good tea, but since it rose to the challenges presented by terribly fragmented, sloppy, unfocused brewing, I decided that it was only fair that I be a little more generous than usual.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by at least 13 subsequent infusions. In theory, steep times for these infusions were 10 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, and 3 minutes. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that no infusions were repeated due to the interruptions to my review session chronicled in the above paragraph. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure at least two or three infusions were repeated.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, orchid, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I found emerging custard and narcissus scents underscored by some vague vegetal character. The first infusion then introduced spinach and umami scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of butter, cream, vanilla, and sugarcane that were chased by subtler notes of orchid, narcissus, grass, spinach, and umami. Subsequent infusions introduced new impressions of minerals, lychee, apricot, peach, pear, green apple, coconut, lettuce, and cucumber. There were also some stronger umami notes plus a vague coriander presence here and there on the swallow. The series of longer infusions at the tail end of the session offered mild notes of minerals, butter, cream, and sugarcane balanced by fleeting impressions of vanilla, umami, lettuce, and green apple.
I am usually more of a fan of winter Dayuling oolongs as I find them to be more robust, but this tea offered more than enough to please me. I was kind of surprised that it did not strike me as being more floral, but that also could have been due to my usual spring stuffiness and the disruptions to my review session that limited my ability to consistently focus on identifying aromas and flavors. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to try this tea under less chaotic circumstances, but honestly, I still greatly enjoyed it. Life may have gotten in the way, but hey, it did not sink this tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Coconut, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Green Apple, Lettuce, Lychee, Mineral, Narcissus, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla