Huang Zhi Xiang Phoenix Mountain Dancong Oolong

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Oolong Tea
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Roasted, Sweet, Apricot, Astringent, Citrus, Peach, Wood, Smoke
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Edit tea info Last updated by Geoffrey
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205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 15 sec 6 g 6 oz / 182 ml

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47 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Well, this tea and I have quiiiiite the history. The first time, I so epically steeped it incorrectly that it was undrinkable! I feel bad, because that note of mine should have moved to the back of...” Read full tasting note
  • “I totally agree with David – this tea is a SHAPE-SHIFTER – Oddly enough I have been on an X-Files kick and rewatching the series on netflix so this term makes me chuckle…but it’s funny because it’s...” Read full tasting note
  • “After having a sample of the Mi Lan Xiang Phoenix Mt Dancong and finding it quite fascinating I asked for a sample of this. The tea leaves are a dark brownish-green and slightly twisted. Dry and...” Read full tasting note
  • “Dry leaf: This is one of the most fantastic tea I’ve ever smelled. It has a very light oolong smell but has a very sweet, fruity smell. It is almost like a candy or fruit juice extract. It doesn’t...” Read full tasting note

From Verdant Tea

Region: Phoenix Mountain, Guangzhou

Leaves: Our Phoenix Mountain Dancong is picked from the old tea trees higher than 1000 meters above sea level. Huang Zhi Xiang is a varietal, or subcategory within Phoenix Mountain Oolong, sometimes translated as Orange Blossom or Yellow Branch. At such high altitude, the tea trees are large, slow-growing plants covered in mist that protects them from excess sunlight, helping to produce especially sweet and complex tea.

Flavor Profile: Through the entire 20-25 steepings that we usually take this tea to, this tea yields a staggering spectrum of flavors with a complexity that can rival the depth of any fine pu’er. Early steepings have a woody base with strong notes of toast with apple butter. The apple soon yields to blueberry jam, and the body of the tea becomes sparkly with flavor and texture creating a sensation like electricity or rippling water. Chocolate and darker citrus notes enter with the woody flavor becoming a more pronounced pine base.
It seems in these middle steepings that the oolong is finally settling into itself, but then it takes a sharp turn towards darker more savory flavors. First there is the taste of buckwheat and honey, which leads into what can only be described as the graham cracker marshmallow goodness of s’mores. In very late steepings, the dark flavors start to lift like a fog leaving a tingling lime citrus flavor on the tongue and a vegetal tieguanyin-like aftertaste, and even a bit of peppery cinnamon spice.

Notes: This Dancong keeps us coming back for more. As you can see from the tasting notes, it is a true shapeshifter, taking on so many intriguing forms that it seems to throw down the challenge of drinking it again and again. While it is an incredible full-evening’s entertainment to steep this Chinese style, we have been enjoying large pots and mugs with great effect as well. One note to point out is that this is one of our only teas that requires some attention to steep time. Forget about this for 10 minutes in a pot and the grassy notes get a bit strong. The extra care needed is well worth the reward!

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47 Tasting Notes

131 tasting notes

Superb tea that I simply call “Beautiful Journey” as it takes you to places both familiar and mysterious. I love Geoffrey’s description in his Steepster tasting notes, and have to say I agree completely with the other tasters who have rated this as such a fine Dancong Oolong. You truly must take the time to focus on the tea, and brewing it in small multiple steepings is the best. I happened across David’s (Verdant Tea) video on YouTube specifically showing his steeping method, which also serve as a nice reminder or guide for those who might be unfamiliar with a nice way to enjoy your oolong. Highly recommended.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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3283 tasting notes

This is not the new Huang Zhiang, it is a sample that came in foil, one of the verdant tea reward sample packages. The label reads, “High Mountain Dancong Huang Zhixiang”
& it is from at least a year ago. I had a few of these, & this is the last one, so it’s also a sipdown! I had planned to drink it during my upcoming Sipdown Extravaganza, but momentarily forgot, plus I didn’t want to open the newer Huang Zhi Xiang until this one was gone, so now it will be!

I used the entire 7G sample, in an Earthen Gaiwan (from Butiki), with 2 rinses, & 3 second steeps.
The dry aroma spoke of juicy fruits & orange blossoms, which is nice, since this translates to “Orange Blossom Fragrance”.
I warmed up the leaf & the aroma became richer, thicker.
The early steepings were mild & roasty, lightly sweet.
I was going to document all of the steepings, but to be honest, I was also teaching, so it didn’t happen…
Wood, incense, fruit, even a little chocolate at one point…
I’m in the later steeps, & there is a creamy quality, with an aftertaste that lingers forever, as if I ate a sweet red grapefruit. It isn’t just an after-taste, it’s an after sensation as well, where my mouth feels kind of puckery, like I ate citrus fruit. And this is the most open my sinuses have been all day, filled with an after-aroma.
I’d like to keep drinking, but Tony is fixing me dinner, so I’m done for now. Maybe later I’ll rinse the leaves to reheat them, & drink some more.

This is one of those teas that I initially didn’t care for. This is one of those teas that requires more tea & very short steeps, otherwise it quickly becomes bitter, in the way that the white pith of citrus fruits is bitter & tangy.


I think I need some Dancong tomorrow, sounds good


Terri – Nice review! I’ve been waffling over ordering this. I think I’ll put an ounce or two on my upcoming order. Thanks!

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1184 tasting notes

I am using my new little gongfu pot and small glass cups for an extended gongfu tea experience.

2 rinses. Each steep was around 4 seconds but it probably ended up being longer than that because my little gongfu pot pours out quite slowly.
Mostly I am getting a woodsy citrus aroma from the dry and steeped leaf

Steepings 1-4: Woodsy, sweet buttery oolong with some citrus notes in the end of the sip and in the aftertaste

Steepings 5-7: Less buttery and citrus. Now, smooth and nutty qualities are coming through

Steepings 8-10: Fruity notes are starting to come out—citrus is still there, along with a little hint of berry (maybe the elderberry they mention on the website), and a hint of apple

11-14 Getting some muted buttery flavours, and some tanginess (where did that come from?)

15-18: I increased the steep time to 10seconds, now I am getting mellow peppery notes like the website mentioned

I preferred the first 9 steepings of this tea. However, as I mentioned before, my “4 second steepings” were maybe too long so perhaps I didn’t get as many steepings in as I should have.

This was a very interesting experience of brewing tea for me, this gongfu technique. I liked experiencing the tea in small quantities, tasting the subtle differences of a tea’s character as I went along.


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64 tasting notes

Woo! Another dan cong fragrance checked off my list! And a very nice one at that. I’ve wanted to log this one so badly, but this semester’s been pretty intense and I wanted to give this one the proper time to say lovely things about it. :)

I’ll start with the dry leaves. The aroma is unbelievably complex, and it seems I detect some fragrances more than others at different times. To date I’ve accumulated these aromas: dehydrated cantaloupe, banana-nut bread, honey, ripened blackberries (this one is consistent), a bit of cucumber juice, and sweet spices. Of the darker oolongs I’ve had, this is by far my favorite dry leaf aroma. The leaves are also extremely long when dry; sometimes it’s a pain trying to get them to fit in my small gaiwan!

After a wash, the wet leaves explode with more olfactory goodness. It’s so very rich and pungent, with this wine-like tartness that envelops the nasal cavity. It’s like elder berries, grape juice, hibiscus, and a bit of orange blossom. It also has these undertones of that strong, pungent, vegetal quality you find in a good tieguanyin.

On to the liquor. The orange zest of the “orange blossom” (huang zhi) fragrance is very prominent here, but there is a ton more going on in the cup. On the first steep (2 secs), if sipped immediately, the body is very light with slightly subdued flavors of orange, and honey. After cooling a bit, though, everything seems to come together and settle into a fuller body with more prominent orange flavors, a slightly tangy citrus taste, and undertones of apple.

Into the second steep (3 secs), tastes of raw sugar come into play and mix with the previous flavors. The third steep (3 secs), though, is really where everything comes together. The sugar, citrus, and orange blossom notes meld together to remind me of candied orange rinds. Then, tons more fly up from the bottom including flavors of hibiscus, which add a floral tartness, more honey, red grapes, and a bit of ginger, which nicely compliments the orange flavors. The aromas from this cup are quite powerful. That explosive tartness originally smelled in the leaves is now given off by the liquor, and upon taking a sip spreads even further. Sweeter elements chase from behind, until they meet in equilibrium and fade slowly into an aftertaste of thick, tingling goodness.

At this point, the mouthfeel becomes sparkling-like, and is quite light on the tongue. This sparkling texture increases in intensity over time, even into steeps in the ‘teens. For sake of space, I’ll outline the rest of my steeps:

Steep 4 (0:07) – Spices, tartness, and the “candied orange rind” flavor decrease slightly, while malty flavors appear, astringency is less strong, and there is an overall sweetness.

Steep 5 (0:12) – Tartness is further subdued, while sweet floral flavors become most prominent. An orange cream-like flavor also comes into play.

Steep 6 (0:16) – The top flavors (orange cream and florals) again come down, while tartness seems to disappear. Undertones of walnuts and berries appear along with a subtle astringency.

Steep 7 (0:22) – Easy come easy go: walnuts and berry flavors dissipate. However, flavors of cranberries come into play and mesh well with the orange-blossom flavors, presenting something reminiscent of cranberry-orange juice. The malty tones of previous steeps also become difficult to detect. Orange blossom flavors rise….

Steep 8 (0:30) – …and then fall. Honey becomes very apparent again, while tones of apples and the rich earth appear as undertones.

Steep 9 (0:40) – At this point, the body becomes less full, as most of the flavors become subtle. Berry flavors are replaced by some florals, a new “mossy” flavor, and fresh orange. A slight spiciness comes back along with a subtle grape-like flavor.

Steep 10 (0:52) – Ginger spices climb up to be matched with a more woody flavor. Mossy flavor has disappeared and this cup is quite astringent.

Steep 11 (1:10) – Tapioca! I’m either crazy, or this tastes exactly like tapioca. The couple times I’ve tried this tea so far, it always tastes like tapioca at around this point, and continues like this into subsequent steeps, so I’m going with I’m not crazy. It’s quite refreshing and seems to pair very nicely with the orange blossom flavor that has returned in full. There is also a general earthiness to this steep. Also, at this point the tea reaches a maximum of the sparkling texture, which is very strong and tingly.

Steep 12 (1:28) – Orange and floral notes fade and are replaced by notes of ripe berries, earthiness and woody flavors become more apparent. A very minute amount of spice is detected and lingers in the back of mouth long after a sip.

Steep 13 (1:50) – Similar to last, but spices are more pronounced and the mouthfeel is extremely tingly.

Steep 14 (~13 minutes…oops) – Actually came out okay, just a little too astringent and some added bitterness. The body was very syrupy. Tapioca flavors are still most prominent, followed by orange blossom, and an earthy, pu’er-like undertone.

Steep 15 (~5 min) – Same as above.

Steep 16 (~5 min) – Same, but with a few more berry notes.

Steep 17 (~8 min) – Same, with added flavors of honey, making the body thicker.

Steep 18 and 19 (~8 min) – Very juicy. Candied orange rinds becomes the most dominant flavor, while earthy tones and and ginger spice add depth. Still a very sparkling texture.

This tea definitely kept me on my toes. It was quite a fun experience and has caused my love for dan congs to grow further. The only issue I had was that it becomes extremely astringent and bitter if steeped for too long. Other than that, I’ve been steeping it throughout the day and it never disappoints.

205 °F / 96 °C

It’s a law, I’m sure, that when you drink remarkable tea’s you must write long, completely inspired reviews. I’m chuckling because I do this and when I’m finished I say “WOW, how did all those words get there?!”
It happens so easily…the tea is so special that the words to review it simply spill out.
One the other hand, the worse the tea is, the harder it is to write a review.
Good job


Haha thanks, Bonnie! Say tuned for a crazy lengthy review of a yummy shu I drank recently. I just couldn’t stop writing after I finished drinking. As soon as I’m done with the five exams (2 down so far!) I have this week I’ll be finishing and posting it.

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11 tasting notes

Well, it’s official. I’m not entirely sure why I keep buying teas from anywhere but Verdant. I’ve been exploring lots of dancong teas lately. I love how distinctly you can pick up perfume or fruit or whatever else in a humble little tea leaf. Some of them, however, practically take off with florals, to the detriment of other flavors.

This particular tea starts off deep, like a warm roasted nut, but balanced out by the “baked apple” sort of texture noted in the description. Toward the middle, I get raisin like sensations, and the woodsy fragrance just lingers around my head. I get many more fruit, wood, and sugar notes out of this tea than floral, and it’s a richer tea “base” than other dancongs – and for that I think it is (as many of Verdant’s offerings tend to be) very accessible and understandable for those branching out from “western” tea drinking. Although there is a warning about being sensitive to brew time, this tea doesn’t “go green” or “bitter and astringent” at the slightest touch because of the roasted quality it presents. I fear I may start drinking this tea to the exclusion of others, it’s that good.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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294 tasting notes

One thing i have learned so far about oolongs is that they get much better after a few steeps. Steep 1 is light and luscious with a sweet aroma. I was warned to keep an eye on the steep time. I have been letting it steep for 5 minutes. There were no instructions other than watching the timing. The 2nd is opening up and providing more flavor and a slight sparkle. I am getting the applewood flavor. My body temperature is rising too. That keen sense of awareness that one gets from a fine tea also. I truly feel I should of used more leaf but I am enjoying this tea. I bought this without even getting a sample because quite honestly I have been very pleased with everything I have purchased from Verdant. Cup 3 is shining like a new dime. More of the electric mouthfeel similar to the Big Red Robe that I love so much. It’s a beautiful day And I have to get outdoors. More on this interesting nectar later….

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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57 tasting notes

Just revisited this tea to give it a proper note.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Large thin twisted leaves with long stems. Dark in color with some light brown. Very aromatic, with notes of honey, oranges, and nuts.

>Brewing Method
4oz gaiwan, Boiling water, gong-fu style with 2 rinses. 10 infusions.

>Liquid Appearance
Clear light golden color, which eventually transforms to a deeper orange/golden color.

The first two cups were similar. Light in taste with a very subtle honey sweet fragrance. Subtle notes of red apple, maybe some nuts, and honey.

Starting from the 3rd cup, the aroma in the tea began to have a gentle spiciness added to it. While the tea itself remained mostly the same, a dry citrusy finish began to emerge. This “finish” eventually culminated in the 5th cup, where the tea left your mouth with a dry feeling similar to that of biting into a dry orange rind. I also noted a slight mouthwatering sensation.

In the 6th and 7th cup, I noted the texture getting a little more velvety, with the citrus notes more noticeable but without the intense dryness from previous cups.

From the 8th to 10th cup, the texture of the tea became so good. Verdant describes it as “dessert tea” and I agree with the spot on description. Creamy, sweet, citrusy, velvety, honey… can’t think of any other words that can appropriately describe the texture during these late steepings.

I ended the session after 10 steeps.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
LARGE long leaves. Leaves now were in a brownish-green color.

While I did enjoy this tea, especially towards the end, I have mixed feelings on this one. Described as a “shapeshifter,” the changes were very subtle and mostly in texture. It also takes many re-steeps to see the tea evolve, making it a slightly time consuming process. I steeped this tea 10 times hoping to explore most of what it had to offer, but reading over Verdant’s tasting notes, I’m not even halfway there. This means that despite the relative high price, this tea keeps on giving and giving, even during my last infusion I felt like I was just getting to know this tea. This is definitely not a bad thing, but I feel its not a good thing either.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, this truly is a tea you have to dedicate yourself to. You have to give yourself time and patience to properly brew this to fully explore its offerings, and even then, the flavor profile might not suit your tastes for the time spent on preparing it. I personally enjoyed this one and would like to drink it a little more. But considering the price per ounce, I might just bring it out every now and then, probably just for long gong-fu sessions with friends or when I feel like it. Otherwise I feel like I’m not really making a good use of this great tea.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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882 tasting notes

Thank you to whoever sent this one to me! It was a nice surprise :) the first steep was 30s. It almost reminds me of cinnamon with light apple notes.
Second steep was 1m. This time it has a bit of a sharper flavor but as it cools it turns sweet. Like a toast and jam kind of sweet. Mmm :)
3rd steep was about 2m. The cup has turned a bit more woody with a light pine or minty taste. This is my favorite steep so far.
4th steep was about 3m. It’s a bit more savory and has a nice peppery note along with something sweet. Honey? Hmm..
Thank you again whoever sent this to me. I quite enjoyed it and I have a little more I can play with in the future :).

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49 tasting notes

Much thanks to David and Verdant Tea for this sample.

I have tried one other Huang Zhi Xiang Dan Cong, and it was from Seven Cups. Lately, my view of good teas has been coming from this company, but Verdant constantly challenges me to question my current perceptions that Seven Cups has created for me.

Usually, I like the Verdant offerings not as better teas (tieguanyins are an exception), but just in a different way. It is the same here.

When I think of a Huang Zhi Xiang (also known as Yellow Sprig) wulong, I think bright, bright, bright, medium body, EXTREMELY fruity, with just enough tannin to add a nice punch in the aftertaste. This Yellow Sprig wulong is much smoother than what I am used to. There is also a lot less dominance of some flavors over others. In other words the flavors are more balanced and a little shy. This is not the “in your face” Dan Cong that I am used to, not only from Seven Cups, but also from other tea companies like Ku Cha. Its flavors are balanced with a medium roast (especially in the first few steepings), mellowed out passion fruit and mango (becoming more and more prominent in later steepings), and even a hint of mushroom and asparagus.

I am very surprised at the complexity of this Dan Cong Wulong tea. I am a bit disappointed that it is not more fruity, but this is only because my other favorite Yellow Sprig wulong is so fruity, it might as well be juice. I am also disappointed that the flavor is not so strong, since I have come to expect strong, “in your face,” flavors from a Dan Cong wulong.

Personal disappointments and expectations aside, this is a wonderful when seen apart from everything else. The relatively whole leaves and lack of bitterness indicate a master of the craft of making a good wulong tea. The aroma and balance of flavors are simply amazing. I definitely look forward to trying out other Dan Cong Wulongs from Verdant Tea.

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93 tasting notes

After the hype around this tea I was a bit let down. It is, indeed, a very nice dancong but it seems a bit… safe.
I’ve grown accustomed to a sort of tug in two directions from Phoenix Oolongs. On one side we have fresher, lighter tasting contenders that seem jubilant and crisp – really reminiscent of champagne to me. On the other side we have two teams pulling the same direction towards potent, mulling, and lingering tendencies with either a brooding mob-boss air (woody, cedary, cigar-tinged, with afteraroma that sits in yer throat for days) or a gruff fifties dad character (heavy fruits and a bit of pipe tobacco with a background of smells akin to a sawdust-littered garage workshop). Ultimately this side is more like port or brandy to me. This tea is coming off to me as some kid who sits in the middle of this tug of war and cries “Can’t we all just get along?”

Again, I mean no offense here and the rating I give is only representative of my personal preferences for character expression among Fenghuang Dancongs and excitement level when drinking this. It’s darned tasty, clean, and has definitive dancong character in spades. What catches me off-guard here is the lack of necessity of praying to the great caffeine overlords on high that you won’t screw the thing up by missing your mark by a second or two while brewing. The astringency is muted even when using boiling water. A variance of 4g per 100mL hardly put a dent in its character. Using 85C versus 100C made little difference. Tactile impression for nearly every infusion has been well-balanced throughout the mouth. And, unlike the description led me to believe, every cup up to the 9th infusion of second round was very consistent in base character.

It’s that consistency and balance that puts me a tad at odds with this tea. A tea that’s a pain in the arse to brew and jumps hither and thither whether you want it to or not is neigh impossible to replicate results with at times but it keeps it interesting. I love aggressive dancongs and yanchas that throw that at me. I like when every cup is a new adventure more than a steady flow from one character to another over the course of infusions. I definitely look for that in some (hmm, actually most) of my teas, but for dancongs I want a bit more excitement. Cup size matters here – when poured into a small gongfu serving cup there is far more deviation in character than in my cup that holds a whole 200mL, so this tea would be far more exciting when sharing amongst a bunch of people from a small pot compared to pouring it all into one for a single person. Now, I essentially got what I was looking for in my initial brewing round with this tea, where I approached cautiously – it’s my freakishly aggressive brew round that left me puzzled as to why I wan’t getting jumps and twists of fate in my cup.

First Round: Tommy’s Pussy Little Babysteps Approach.
This is my baseline method when I first meet a new Phoenix Oolong and the way I tell most people to start in on ‘em if they haven’t screwed around with these teas before. Even really aggressive, broken leaf dancongs can be easily approachable under these parameters, so it’s about the least risky brewing method I know for bringing out good flavor without producing overbrewed characteristics.
4g/100mL in a heavy glazed ceramic gaiwan
Typically I’d progress in 30sec intervals at the 2min point but the tea started dying fast on me at that point and the 4min infusion was severely lacking (3 min wasn’t much with it either).
While there were ebbs and swells of flavor intensity and aromatic expression, this was overall very mild and kinda buttery. Not Taiwanese Oolong creamy-buttery, o’course, but still smooth and “soft” feeling. The overarching base characteristics remained really consistent through each infusion. Gardenia and African Violet florals, Vanilla and Crème brûlée toasty-sweet nose/afteraroma, and a blanket lightly-toasted sesame seed nutty flavor foremost above everything in every brew. ‘Round the third-fourth infusion a secondary set of floral-vegetal characteristics akin to spices came through but they were not obvious enough to pick out and identify until I encountered them in the next brewing round when a touch of astringency helped key them out.
Highly approachable when brewed this way. Very consistent and clean. Sesame seeds really took the bulk of the flavor stage.

Second Round: Pack As Much Tea Into The Pot As You Can Approach.
This is how I generally prefer to brew these (well, with somewhat cooler water and without the break), but it requires a basic understanding of a particular dancong’s habits beforehand. There’s typically a risk to overbrew with this approach and it’s less likely to preserve light floral and fruity aromatics but it usually garners the greatest diversity of flavor for me. I’m using water just off a boil in the hopes of pushing the tactile impression on this tea since the safer brewing method produced such a light mouthfeel.
Used my 180mL Zi Ni Rong Tian pot for Fenghuang Dancongs in this round.
Using this level of concentration, leaves have a real tendency to displace water over time (more so with rolled oolongs), so later infusions are inadvertently brewed a tad bit stronger while more leaf surface is available to brew as well. However, pouring from the kettle into the pot with high velocity is sort of necessary to churn the leaves a bit.
Water shortly off a boil
9g leaf / 155g water

9g leaf / 135g water
Final infusion measured at 9g leaf / 120g water

Flavor smoothly progressed from one infusion to the next, sometimes with hardly a change at all. Probably the most consistent Huang Zhi Xiang cup-to-cup I’ve had. I suspect I could easily replicate the flavor sets I got out of these without much effort even if I push the first few infusions a bit harder.
Very first infusion probably shoulda gone for around 20sec and second-third infusions around 15sec. Mild. Little perceivable astringency. Most teas and most brewing methods I’d go for I hope to limit astringency, but in dancongs I feel it makes for a vital component that helps add mouthfeel since they have relatively little taste and rely predominantly upon aroma and nose. The 12sec and 15sec infusions were the most pleasant of all the expressions I’ve gotten from this tea and I strongly believe it’s more a byproduct of them being the fourth and fifth steeps at high concentration than the duration of the steep time. Greenhouse florals and faint mustiness come through nicely in the afteraroma and work well with the light acidity and faint astringency though the body could be thicker (again-longer brew time).
When I reached the 20sec infusions, I finally got those secondary florals again. I’m reluctant to say “smell” since the aroma was so light and you don’t get these from the liquor aroma – it’s going back through the nose from the mouth (the “nose” of the tea). So I’m going to say it’s the “taste” of the air when walking through an almond orchard mixed with that of an orange orchard (neither in bloom). Xing Ren Xiang frequently comes off as very much like the aroma of an almond orchard in bloom and You Hua Xiang has the aroma of a lemon orchard in bloom while this has more the leafy character of these from summer – essentially the taste of the air around a few street vendors I stop at when driving through the Central Valley. Faint Rosemary and Thyme spice notes fleet into this one. Later it is more of a shadow of spearmint, but really not obvious to me at all in the larger cup (only picked it out ‘cause I’m pouring ~10mL into a little cup on the side).

After the several hour break, infusions started moving towards a more mineral expression. Really not much flavor until it cools down and then the aromatic characteristics come back into play within the mouth. Soft and crisp with a light lingering afteraroma similar to tulips and violets in a greenhouse. Once the cup goes lukewarm, more gardenia, vanilla, and citrus orchard characteristics come out and I finally get some of the woody notes mentioned in the company description. Sweet, creamy taste very similar to sweet brown rice is noticeable once cooled in the second 30sec infusion and a tad more astringency helps promote a pleasant twiggy taste. The 45sec infusion is about the same as the previous one but with a bit more citrus peel and overall starting to fall a little flat so I ramped up the time a bit faster than I normally would (I prefer to progress in 10-15 second intervals at this concentration). Rice and sesame seed share dominance from this point on and the astringency provides a pleasant balance to the moderate body and vanilla-floral nose. Few characteristics are present in the liquor aroma – almost all identifiable aroma keys are from the mouth leading back up through the nose. The liquor aroma at this point is faint and kinda similar to “honey and cream” scented moisturizing hand soap… which isn’t really like honey nor cream in any way unless you boil the hell out of them. For the long infusions (2+min) the flavor is all cooking rice and lightly toasted sesame with some stir-fried bamboo shoots hiding underneath. It’s possible to get a wider range of character by pouring into a little gongfu serving cup since it cools down so rapidly, but inside a cup holding ~100mL the range of character is significantly truncated unless allowed to sit to a barely-warm temperature. Once cool, the long infusions are pretty uniform with a creamy-sweet nose, moderate body, very slight mouthwatering effect towards the front from light crisp acidity, lingering parching astringency across the tongue, faint sesame flavor and gardenia nose. Slurped from a small cup showcases some nice woody tones at this phase.
Flavor seeeeriously slacked off and started going pool-waterish at the 4min30sec infusion and the following 5min infusion wasn’t much worth drinking in spite of the tactile impression and taste not really changing… Loss of aromatics. Honestly, the final 7min infusion was more to weigh the pot than for taste, just ‘cause I was curious what the displacement wound up coming to by the end. Really it had little discernible flavor, the body was really light, and the astringency parched the tongue and throat uncomfortably so I just set it aside and used it to wash down some rice I went and made (so much tea with the character of sweet brown rice, I figured why not make some).

Very pleasant overall. If I had more I would screw around with a 9g/100mL concentration and a full minute initial infusion using 95C water right off the get-go. It’s good enough that I feel inclined to buy some to experiment with, though I’d feel guilty choosing this over the other teas I got in this package of samples from Geoffrey at Verdant.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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