I was so close to completely cleaning out the backlog of reviews at the end of last week, but unfortunately, I got lazy and just stopped posting stuff. Now these things are starting to pile up again. At least the number is currently under six. Anyway, I finished a sample pouch of this tea earlier in the week. Despite my limited exposure to Dancong oolongs, I tend to enjoy Mi Lan Xiang most of the time. This one, however, exists in a gray area in the sense that there were things about it I greatly appreciated and things about it that irritated and disappointed me. It ended up being the sort of tea I could not honestly recommend, but also couldn’t caution others against.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 35 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted fairly strong aromas of honey, roasted nuts, stone fruits, and orchid. The rinse brought out a stronger orchid scent and also introduced aromas of wood, spices, and vanilla. The first infusion then amplified the vanilla and spice aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered rather pronounced orchid notes balanced by some nuttiness and hints of honey and spices. Subsequent infusions produced a very smooth, mellow liquor lacking the expected Dancong soapiness. I picked up stronger notes of honey as well as impressions of orange blossom, plumeria, wood, lychee, cooked greens, cattail shoots, orange zest, toast, peach, apricot, golden raisin, butter, roasted almond, and minerals. The spice impressions also began to really distinguish themselves-I was reminded of a combination of ginger and cinnamon, though a licorice-like note was present as well. These spicy, herbal impressions lingered briefly in the mouth and throat after the swallow. The tea washed out quickly, even for a Dancong. The later infusions mostly offered mineral and cooked green notes with occasional, largely fleeting impressions of honey, peach, orchid, and spices.
So, this tea was a real mixed bag for me. I loved the complexity of the earlier infusions and appreciated the gentle texture of the liquor in the mouth. Dancongs can be particularly slick and/or strident, but that was not the case here. This tea, however, faded so quickly and the later infusions did not offer anything in the way of intrigue. Honestly, the first 4-5 infusions were the good ones, and I am not the sort of person who enjoys short gongfu sessions. What’s worse is that Unytea’s product description promised a tea with considerable longevity and that is not what I got. In the end, this was a very uneven, ridiculously front-loaded drinking experience. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it, but I have had better and doubt I would ever be willing to return to it. That’s a shame too. I expected so much more considering I really enjoyed the Chou Shi (and I don’t even particularly like Chou Shi) that Unytea offered and rated it very highly.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Cinnamon, Floral, Ginger, Licorice, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Raisins, Toast, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood