This was either one of the last teas I drank last month or one of the first I drank I drank this month. I can’t remember which is the case. What I do know is that this is one of the best teas I have consumed within the past month. Ban Tian Yao is a pretty rare oolong cultivar, so finding one this good at such an affordable price was absolutely mind-blowing.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of raspberry, nectarine, raisin, cinnamon, orchid, and peach. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, cream, orange, and wood. The first infusion then introduced scents of honey and blackberry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of raspberry, raisin, cinnamon, peach, orange, cream, and roasted almond that were backed by hints of wood, grass, and nectarine. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of roasted peanut, butter, vanilla, grass, sweet cherry, and plum. Notes of honey and orchid came out in the mouth along with subtle blackberry hints and impressions of minerals, vanilla, butter, roasted peanut, plum, apple, and sweet cherry. I also noted some stronger grass notes and hints of malt, rock sugar, smoke, and nutmeg. By the end of the session, I was still able to pick up notes of minerals, roasted almond, cream, raisin, and roasted peanut that were chased by hints of wood, malt, butter, grass, orchid, and rock sugar.
The description What-Cha provided of this tea was ridiculously accurate as it really was a lighter and tangier Wuyi oolong. I particularly appreciated the complexity of this tea. It was very challenging, yet very enjoyable and easy-drinking. Wuyi oolongs can often be a bit heavy and sharp, but this one was actually much more refreshing, balanced, and easygoing than one would expect. I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a quality Wuyi oolong that is a bit softer on the palate, though I also cannot help feeling that, due to the comparative rarity of oolongs produced from the Ban Tian Yao cultivar, seasoned Wuyi oolong drinkers would probably be the ones to get the most out of this tea.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Blackberry, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Smoke, Stonefruits, Sugar, Vanilla, Wood