This is the last tea review from my April backlog. I figured I would go ahead and post it while I was still sitting at my computer. It seems that the number of aged Qing Xin oolongs offered by vendors of Taiwanese tea has been growing in recent years. Aside from this tea, I have seen quite a few others on the market with production dates ranging from the early 1990s to the mid-late 2000s. Buying aged oolongs is always a crapshoot for me. I’m not huge on them, and quite frankly, quality is often variable. I was not expecting much out of this one, largely because the previous reviewers were not enamored with it, but I have to say that it pleasantly surprised me. As aged Taiwanese oolongs go, this was actually quite pleasant and drinkable.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, plum, peach, and raisin. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, orchid, pear, and straw. The first infusion brought out aromas of coconut, pineapple, and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cedar, pine, coconut, vanilla, pineapple, straw, roasted almond, orchid, and peach that were backed by hints of mango, papaya, caramel, and some sort of melon. The subsequent infusions introduced olive, mango, leather, nutmeg, cherry, papaya, caramel, apple, white grape, and cantaloupe aromas. Impressions of minerals, nutmeg, leather, fennel, cinnamon, olive, cherry, apple, and white grape emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging notes of pear and plum and more immediate and prevalent impressions of mango, papaya, and caramel. The melon notes also took shape as I noted a distinct cantaloupe impression in the mouth. As the tea faded, I began to primarily note mineral, mango, peach, pear, roasted almond, plum, cherry, and vanilla impressions that were underscored by hints of nutmeg, fennel, leather, papaya, cedar, pine, apple, and cantaloupe.
Honestly, this struck me as being a very nice tea. I’m not sure what other reviewers found to be objectionable about it. I was especially impressed by the vibrancy of its aromas and flavors. One does not generally find aged oolongs that are so fruity and sweet. My only real quibble was that the texture of the tea liquor was a bit grainy for my tastes, but other than that, this was a very nice aged oolong.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Cantaloupe, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coconut, Fennel, Fruity, Leather, Mango, Mineral, Nutmeg, Olives, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pine, Pineapple, Plums, Raisins, Straw, Vanilla, White Grapes