Sometimes I buy a tea just because I think there is something up with the way it is marketed. When I saw this tea on Tealyra’s website, I was immediately confused and intrigued. Huang Shan is located in China’s Anhui Province, but this oolong was marketed as being produced in Taiwan. I figured I was either missing something or that something did not quite add up, so I bought the tea and set about doing a little research. It turns out that there is an area in Taitung County, Taiwan popularly referred to as “Little Huang Shan,” or more properly as Xiao Huang Shan, just outside of Beinan Township. Further exploration revealed the presence of the Jia Fang Tea Plantation nearby. Apparently, it is pretty popular with tourists to the area and is mostly known for a lightly oxidized strip style oolong similar to the more familiar Wenshan Baozhong. If you search for images of Jia Fang products, you will most likely immediately stumble upon the same image I found-a very green loose leaf oolong packaged in a green box with a cartoonish smiling person on the side. I would be surprised if this were not the same tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 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.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered gentle aromas of cream, custard, honeysuckle, and hyacinth. After the rinse, I found new aromas of gardenia, butter, vanilla, violet, and lilac. The first proper infusion offered slightly stronger butter and cream aromas coupled with an emerging sugarcane presence. In the mouth, I found barely perceptible notes of wood and grass which quickly gave way to cream, butter, vanilla, and floral notes. Subsequent infusions brought out the grass and wood on the nose. I also began to pick up stronger floral flavors and emerging magnolia, pear, green apple, mineral, spinach, leaf lettuce, and honeydew impressions. Notes of sugarcane also showed up on the palate. The later infusions were heavy on mineral notes, though I could also detect touches of grass, spinach, cream, and butter, sometimes with distant background notes of green apple and flowers.
This was a very light, delicate oolong with a nice mix of savory, vegetal, floral, and fruity characteristics in the mouth. It did a reasonably good job of approximating the character of a traditional Wenshan Baozhong, though it was missing a little of the depth I tend to get from really good examples of that type of tea. Fans of lighter, greener oolongs would undoubtedly be satisfied with this tea, especially considering that the cost is more than reasonable. All in all, this was a very solid, enjoyable drinking experience. I doubt I would turn to this over a respectable Wenshan Baozhong, but it was a nice tea nonetheless.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet, Wood