This was another tea I forgot I had. While going through one of my tea totes last night, I stumbled upon it and thought to myself, “I should probably try this soon.” I then put it aside with the intention of breaking it out within the next couple of days. Curiosity got the better of me, however, and I decided I just had to have it this morning. I found it to be an interesting, mellow oolong with a good deal of complexity and the expected young sheng brininess.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Just out of curiosity, I measured the dragon ball prior to starting the session. I had expected it to weigh approximately 6 grams, but my scale showed right around 8. Not wanting to chance it in a smaller gaiwan, I broke out an unused 5 oz. easy gaiwan I had been meaning to try out sooner. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped the entire dragon ball in 5 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry dragon ball emitted interesting, somewhat funky aromas of stone fruits, smoke, wood, grass, camphor, and brine. The rinse brought out more fruitiness (I began to catch distinct impressions of longan and lychee) as well as honey and more intense smoke, grass, wood, and brine scents. The first infusion introduced hints of pine, wild mushroom, and apricot. In the mouth, I mostly detected a touch of fruitiness coupled with an odd blend of mushroom, honey, smoke, grass, camphor, and brine. Clearly, I didn’t infuse this long enough, but whatever. Subsequent infusions allowed the fruit notes to separate and develop. I definitely got longan, lychee, and apricot. Soon, I also began to pick up tart cherry, lemon, and Asian pear notes, maybe even a touch of something like jackfruit. I also got more intense wood, grass, honey, brine, and smoke. The pine showed up on the palate too. Impressions of earth, minerals, hay, spruce, malt, dried flowers, and birch also joined the party. The later infusions were dominated by minerals, malt, wood, mushroom, and camphor, though I could still detect hints of honey, dried flowers, grass, and stone fruits with just a touch of belatedly emerging caramel.
This was a complex, challenging, quirky tea, but it wasn’t particularly intense. It was very forgiving and even-tempered throughout the session, lacking the peaks and valleys I tend to get from the vast majority of the other teas I brew gongfu. I found it to be a tea worth trying, though I doubt I would be in any rush to return to it.
Flavors: Apricot, Camphor, Caramel, Cherry, Earth, Flowers, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Lychee, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pear, Pine, Salty, Smoke, Wood