Recently finished a 50 gram box of this.
I’ll start off by saying White2Tea offered no picking or roast date on the box or website but I could probably email the vendor requesting the info.
Qilan Trees was the first yancha I ever tried (that I knew for a fact was yancha) and was what made me fall hard for highly mineral rock oolongs. After receiving the package sometime in 2017, I immediately consumed a few brews western style, allowing no resting or airing out of the material. At the time, I wasn’t aware of this style tea performing well gong fu. I remember using about a tbsp of tea to 8 oz of water just off boil. The resulting liquor, believe it or not, was amazing. It was very floral (which I now can place as orchid) and sweet with notes of light honey, graham, butterscotch, milk chocolate and small, sweet Champagne grapes. The minerality was very strong but never biting; more smooth and cool like limestone. The most striking quality of this tea was the salivation it induced. To this day, I’ve never experienced it so strongly in any other tea.
I brewed Qilan Trees a few more times western before exhausting the remaining supply over the course of a year in my 100mL jianshui gaiwan. Usually eyeballed 6-8 grams with water just under boiling. Orchid and milk chocolate were highly pronounced in both aroma and taste, but the liquor itself was never milky but rather both glassy and viscous. The cool limestone minerality and salivation remained. With this method (and maybe it had to do with the clay), I lost a lot of the nuances. I’d say I got 3 amazing steeps with the above qualities before it quickly fell off the cliff and turned into what was just a watered down floral black tea for a few more steeps. Also, over the course of a year, the dry leaves lost a lot of fragrance despite being stored in a tin in the dark. It was a crappy tin to be fair.
Overall, I have an immense soft spot for Qilan Trees. It’s hard to wrap my thoughts around so I’m avoiding rating it. Should I ever purchase more, though, I think I’ll stick with brewing it western style and of course store it it a more airtight container.