The backlog will once again be cleared after I finish typing this review. I received an approximately 4 gram mini sample of this with a What-Cha order in the second half of 2016, and as usual, it was tossed into the sample pile and promptly forgotten. I had the urge to start Saturday with a gongfu session, however, and wanted to try something unique. As I dug through the sample hoard, I came to this one and put it aside as an option. It ultimately came down to this or What-Cha’s Vietnam Gui Fei and I ended up deciding on this one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style, but managed to totally misinterpret one of the more important parts of What-Cha’s brewing parameters-the water temperature. What-Cha recommends a water temperature of 167 F for this one. I am so used to brewing oolong between 185 and 208 F that I accidentally set my electric kettle on 195 F. By the time I realized my mistake, I had already rinsed the tea and decided that I may as well carry on. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped the 4 ounces of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off pleasant, though subtle aromas of hay, cream, butter, Muscat grape, osmanthus, and apricot. After the rinse, the floral and fruity aromas intensified somewhat. The first infusion produced a similar, though noticeably more floral aroma with hints of rose and violet. In the mouth, I picked up fairly balanced notes of cream, butter, hay, apricot, osmanthus, violet, and rose underscored by a hint of Muscat grape on the finish. Subsequent infusions were much more floral and fruity. The aromas of osmanthus, Muscat, violet, and rose intensified. In the mouth, much more pronounced notes of fresh flowers, apricot, and grape rose to the fore, balanced by a smattering of smooth creamy, buttery notes, an emerging bready quality, and a lingering hint of hay. The later infusions were predictably smooth and mild. Cream, butter, hay, bread, and grape remained both on the nose and in the mouth. I could also detect a faint trace of minerals on the finish.
The only previous reviewer to this point noted that the low water temperature perhaps kept the leaf balls from unfurling completely. Considering that I brewed this tea with a water temperature 28 degrees higher than the vendor’s recommended brewing temperature, I did not have that problem. What was most surprising to me was that my blunder regarding the water temperature did not completely sink this one. Brewing at a higher temperature produced a very direct, robust tea with completely over-the-top floral and fruity aromas and flavors. I’m willing to bet that had I used a lower temperature closer to the vendor’s recommended water temperature, this would have been a much more mellow and subtle tea. Regardless of whether or not that is the case, I still liked this tea quite a bit. It was not particularly subtle or deep, but it was still very good. The aromas and flavors of rose and violet in the early and middle infusions were absolutely amazing.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Mineral, Muscatel, Osmanthus, Rose, Violet