I finished a sample pouch of this tea earlier this week, but I’m just now getting around to posting a review. Going out of my way to take more prompt and thorough session notes has been both a blessing and a curse because while I now have a written account of every review session I have conducted over the past two weeks and am not in a position where I have to work from memory on any tea I have consumed in that time, I also now have an excuse to put off posting reviews as quickly. I hope to be completely caught up by the end of next week, but as I am trying about 3-4 new teas each week, it could take a little longer.
This oolong broke up the monotony of Indian black teas for me. I had been on a mission to greatly reduce the number of samples from Teabox on hand and turned to this tea on a whim in order to try something new and different that was not an Indian black tea. I found it to be a unique oolong, perhaps not the deepest or most refined in the world, but unique, complex, and appealing nonetheless.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of char, roasted grain, wood, and coffee beans. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of tree bark, hay, seaweed, and rice cakes balanced by a subtle fruitiness. The first infusion brought out scents of caramelized banana, spinach, and a hint of stone fruits. In the mouth, I found subtle, well-integrated notes of wood, char, tree bark, roasted grain, seaweed, cooked spinach, coffee, rice cake, and caramelized banana. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas and flavors of banana leaf, sour plum, apricot, butter, malt, tart cherry, and wild mushroom. I also noted roasted nut and mineral impressions accompanied by something akin to a slight young sheng funk. The later infusions offered slight notes of minerals, malt, roasted grain, hay, rice cake, and roasted nuts underscored by fleeting impressions of seaweed and lingering sheng-like funk.
This was an interesting oolong with a unique and challenging mix of aromas and flavors. It kind of reminded me of some of the Yunnan oolongs I have tried over the course of the year, though its aroma and flavor components were significantly more mellow and integrated overall. As a matter of fact, that was my only real problem with this tea. While I could appreciate its balance, I also felt that everything was a little too integrated. After a point, nothing about it stood out enough to really spur me forward-I kind of had to push myself to get through the session in the later goings. Still, this was a very nice tea and well worth a shot for anyone considering trying it.
Flavors: Apricot, banana, Bark, Butter, Char, Cherry, Coffee, Grain, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Plums, Rice, Roasted nuts, Seaweed, Spinach, Vegetal, Wood