This is a review I have been sitting on for over a week now. I held off posting this as long as I did because I really wasn’t sure what numerical rating I felt like giving this tea. I received a sample of it as part of a recent order, thus I did not have the opportunity to try this tea more than once over the span of a few days in order to solidify my opinion of it. Ultimately, I guess I kind of feel like this is a couple steps above the 2016 Spring Tieguanyin, a tea for which I really did not care.
I prepared this tea according to the gongfu guide on Verdant Tea’s website. I had to adjust the amount of tea I used since I only had a 5 g sample of this tea and tend to use a smaller gaiwan for my review sessions. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 g of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This was followed by 8 additional infusions, with an increase of 2 seconds per infusion. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 seconds. Again, I know that Verdant suggests attempting to get at least 10-12 infusions out of green Tieguanyins, but I rarely push them that far or that hard, preferring instead to cut off my sessions when it feels right for me to do so.
The aroma of the rinsed leaves was simply incredible. The gaiwan was bursting with hyacinth, gardenia, saffron, vanilla, lilac, jasmine, violet, orchid, honeysuckle, osmanthus, butter, and cream aromas. The first infusion had a similarly powerful nose and presented slightly grassy and lightly vegetal notes underscoring more powerful flavors of lilac, cream, butter, hyacinth, vanilla, violet, orchid, honeysuckle, jasmine, saffron, and osmanthus. Infusions 2-5 continued to emphasize similarly strong savory and floral aromas and flavors, though notes of minerals, sweetgrass, and leaf lettuce began to emerge more fully. The later infusions were more delicate, with pronounced mineral and vegetal aromas and flavors underpinned by subtle cream, butter, and floral aromas and flavors.
Overall, this is not a bad Tieguanyin by any means. I know that I have said it before, but I am always a little bit irritated by labels like “reserve” being applied to teas, but I can kind of see why a label like that would be placed on a tea like this. Compared to the regular 2016 Spring Tieguanyin, which I found to be bland and two-dimensional, this tea is much more complex and displays greater depth. Still, it is not the best Tieguanyin I have ever had. For what it is though, it is pretty decent. I could see people who are fans of heavily floral contemporary oolongs liking this one.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Saffron, Vanilla, Violet