Hey all, I know I have been out of action for a couple days. Sorry about that. I have been dealing with a lot of job stress (I have finally fully realized that the position I transferred into in November is not for me and I’m trying to find a way out into something that suits me better). So, needless to say, I have not been nearly as productive on the tea reviewing front. As a matter of fact, this oolong is the only thing I have been drinking for the past couple of days, which is unfortunate because this is not my thing at all.
For this review session, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I gave this one an extended rinse (10-12 seconds) in the hope of rousing the tea a little. I had tried this tea prior to this and my first impression was that there wasn’t much to it, so I figured I could get a stronger flavor right off the bat if I drew out the rinse and then started with a longer-than-average first infusion. Normally, I start off with either a 5 or 10 second infusion with most oolongs. I started with 15 seconds here. I followed this infusion up with 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 18 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 2 minutes 30 seconds, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes. Can you tell I had no clue what I was doing or where I was going with this one?
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves (which are basically entombed in a sarcophagus of ginseng and Xiang Cao) give off a light musty odor. After the rinse, I could only detect hints of vanilla, ginseng, and grass. The first infusion produced an almost identical aroma. In the mouth, I was just barely able to detect notes of sweetgrass, cream, butter, cucumber, watercress, Chinese vanilla, and ginseng. The next two infusions were virtually identical in every aspect. Subsequent infusions gradually grew smoother and sweeter. The aromas and flavors of Chinese vanilla and ginseng grew more pronounced. Later infusions saw the Xiang Cao merge with the underlying cream note as the sweet, herbal ginseng notes started to fade. The liquor grew slightly more buttery, while a subtle mineral presence began to emerge.
Considering that I do not know what to make of this, it could have been far worse. I think the mistake I made initially was not fully committing to a lengthy first infusion. I should have started around 20 seconds because it takes this one awhile to open up. Once it did open up, however, I did not find there to be all that much to it. The tea, itself, did not have much character, serving as a relatively neutral base from which the Chinese vanilla and ginseng sprung. I guess that was the idea, but I kept looking for additional points of interest and did not find any. It was a very uncluttered drinking experience, but unfortunately, that also means it was a little boring for me. I also have to note that I found the mouthfeel of the tea liquor unappealing. It was very slick, limp, and thin, the liquid equivalent of a dead fish handshake complete with that odd ginseng grittiness on the back of the throat. I am beginning to get the idea that some of these ginseng oolongs just may not be for me.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Grass, Herbs, Mineral, Vanilla, Vegetal