I am so happy to be back on Steepster. Work and class have been crazy lately, and quite frankly, I just haven’t had the time or the energy to do any reviews. Fortunately, I am still working my way through some of my larger tea purchases, so the backlog isn’t huge these days. I finished what I had of this tea a week or so ago. Prior to trying this tea, I did not have much familiarity with Hong Shui oolongs, so I did not really know how to score it. Overall, though, I found it to be a very nice yet challenging tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of dry tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of raisin, prune, pear, cinnamon, and roasted almond. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of vanilla, cream, roasted peanut, butter, and roasted pecan as well as a subtle scent of old leather. The first infusion introduced aromas of cedar, smoke, candied ginger, and nutmeg. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of raisin, prune, honey, cinnamon, roasted almond, vanilla, cream, and butter that were chased by hints of cedar, nutmeg, candied ginger, and pear. There was also a little leatheriness in the mouth after the swallow. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of blackberry, toasted rice, chocolate, roasted barley, pine, straw, black cherry, and blueberry. Stronger candied ginger, pear, and nutmeg notes came out in the mouth alongside roasted pecan notes. Impressions of minerals, straw, toasted rice, roasted barley, black cherry, oats, chocolate, caramel, blackberry, blueberry, red apple, grass, baked bread, and pine also emerged with hints of licorice and smoke in tow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, butter, vanilla, honey, roasted almond, and roasted peanut that were balanced by softer notes of raisin, blackberry, cinnamon, pine, baked bread, toasted rice, grass, and black cherry.
This was a very interesting oolong. Its aroma and flavor components were constantly shifting, rendering the experience of drinking it very difficult for me to accurately describe. In terms of aroma and flavor, it struck me as being almost like a cross between a lighter roasted Shui Xian and a traditional Dong Ding oolong. Anyway, there was a lot going on with this tea. If you are looking for something a little more challenging, this would definitely be a tea to consider.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Ginger, Grass, Honey, Leather, Licorice, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Peanut, Pear, Pecan, Pine, Raisins, Red Apple, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Toasted Rice, Vanilla