The second of the milk oolongs I have tried from Tealyra, I actually bought this one with the other three a couple months ago. As some of you know, I utterly loathed their Quangzhou Milk Oolong. In my opinion, this one is considerably better, though I still would not call it great. Hopefully, the other two (which I have yet to try) will right the ship.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Normally, I will do a quick rinse and then start off with an infusion of either 10 seconds or 20 seconds, increasing my steep times by anywhere from 2-5 seconds per infusion, but I didn’t do that here. I have been reading up on gongfu techniques over the past couple of days and wanted to try starting off with a shorter infusion, so I decided to tinker with my approach for this session. After a quick rinse (maybe 2-3 seconds), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 9 additional infusions. The steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, and 1 minute 15 seconds.
This being a flavored oolong, the first thing I noticed was that the dry leaves smelled like a combination of cream and butter with virtually none of the floral aromas one would expect of a greener Taiwanese oolong. After the rinse, I noted that the powerful aromas of cream and butter remained, though traces of fruitiness and floral character were beginning to peek through the murk. The first infusion produced a similarly powerful creamy, buttery nose, though I did pick up on somewhat faint aromas of magnolia, lily, and lilac, as well as a hint of peach. In the mouth, this infusion was surprisingly mild. I picked up on gentle notes of cream and butter underscored by traces of kettle corn, custard, magnolia, lily, lilac, nectarine, and white peach. There was also a slight grassiness. The second and third infusions began to emphasize fruitiness on the nose and in the mouth, though pronounced notes of cream, butter, and flowers remained. The traces of grass, kettle corn, and custard were similarly amplified. I began to note that the peach and nectarine flavors were joined by tropical fruit notes resembling a mixture of mango, papaya, coconut, and pineapple. The fourth infusion saw the tropical fruit aromas and flavors come out in a big way. By the fifth and sixth infusions, this tea was all about the interaction of cream, butter, and tropical fruit. The floral notes had faded, though the grass, kettle corn, and custard notes remained distinct, especially on the finish. The seventh infusion saw the kettle corn and grass notes begin to play a larger role. The previously described floral aromas and flavors had faded, though oddly enough, I thought I could detect a hint of orchid on the back of the throat. The final three infusions saw the tea fade quickly. By the tenth infusion, I was mostly picking up on a wash of cream, butter, kettle corn, and grass with very faint, distant floral and fruity notes.
To be completely honest, this tea really did not do anything for me. It is rather obvious that this is a bland, generic lower grade Jin Xuan that has been flavored by a combination of milk and water in order to approximate the taste of a higher end tea. I suppose if one were to approach it with an idea of what it is intended to do in mind, this tea could be perceived as being decent. I, however, am incredibly picky when it comes to Jin Xuans. This tea is just too shallow and two-dimensional for me, but at least it lacks the overpowering sweetness and (to me) artificial milkiness of the Quangzhou Milk Oolong. Still, this tea bores me, and I cannot say that I would feel comfortable recommending something I don’t find the tiniest bit interesting.
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Kettle Corn, Mango, Orchid, Peach, Pineapple