I had to take a few days off due to illness, but I’m back again and ready to post some more reviews. This last week has been so frustrating. I interviewed for a new job, but I ended up not getting it. Has anyone ever had one of those interviews where you can tell the interviewer has already made up their mind and isn’t taking you seriously? This was definitely one of those interviews for me. The interviewer did not even bother to show up on time for the interview. It was that bad. Then the brakes blew out on my car. Then I ended up once again dealing with sinusitis when the cold weather broke. It has not been fun. This was the tea that kept me company through most of the week. Like my week, I found it to be difficult and frustrating. Unlike my week, however, it was not necessarily bad overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas reminiscent of char, dark wood, cream, and stone fruit. After the rinse, I found aromas of wild mushroom, cooked spinach, and some sort of roasted vegetable. The first proper infusion brought out hints of burnt sugar on the nose. On the palate, the liquor expressed elusive notes of burnt sugar, cream, wild strawberry, peach, and pomelo backed by hints of dark wood and char with a ghostly floral quality on the finish. So, the first infusion was not all that much like the nose. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of rose, honey roasted peanut, roasted almond, orange zest, sweet cherry, earth, minerals, and slightly stronger impressions of wild mushroom and dark wood. The char notes started to recede into the background while the nose started to take on some citrusy qualities. I also started to note emerging impressions of roasted green beans, watercress, cooked spinach, and collard greens. Interestingly enough, the finish on each of these infusions started off with hints of char, burnt sugar, earth, and vegetables before a blast of floral notes took over, dominating the aftertaste. To me, it was like a blend of rose, chrysanthemum, and dandelion. There was also something of a cooling presence in the nose, mouth, and throat after the swallow. The later infusions were mostly dominated by notes of minerals, dark wood, earth, and a stronger char note up front, though fleeting underpinnings of wild mushroom, cooked spinach, honey roasted peanut, and roasted green beans were still just barely detectable before cream, burnt sugar, and those odd cooling sensations once again took over on the finish.
There was a lot going on with this tea, but it was hard to pin down throughout the session. Just to be sure I wasn’t making this harder than it needed to be, I brewed this Western and tried a slightly different gongfu preparation and got very similar results. Overall, this just struck me as being an odd and rather difficult tea. It was also a little rough around the edges; the aromas and flavors it displayed clashed in a few places, setting up some odd, awkward contrasts. Again, it was not bad, but it also was not great. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it, and perhaps others will get more satisfaction from it than I did, but this did not offer everything I tend to look for in a Wuyi oolong.
Flavors: Almond, Char, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Dandelion, Dark Wood, Earth, Floral, Green Beans, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Rose, Spinach, Strawberry, Sugar, Vegetal