Ethan KurlandEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
My second Shan Lin Xi from Ethan is from higher up the mountain than the Perfect oolong I reviewed a month ago. It’s still relatively affordable at $25 for 50 g. (Before I got into high mountain oolongs, calling that amount affordable would have made me roll my eyes.) I steeped 6 g of tea in a 120 ml porcelain pot using boiling water for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The wonderfully sweet dry aroma is of honeydew melon, gardenia, honeysuckle, orchid, other florals, cookies, and grass. The first steep has notes of gardenia, honeydew, osmanthus (maybe? I still haven’t figured out this flavour), honeysuckle, sweet pea flowers, orchid, and a vegetal backbone. The second steep adds perfectly ripe apricot and the herbaceous note that seems to be a Shan Lin Xi trademark for me. The third and fourth steeps present a lovely combination of flowers, apricot, and nectarine, with the herbaceous and vegetal notes in the background. There’s a long, fruity aftertaste with hints of lettuce. Soft Mandarin orange notes become especially prominent in steeps four and five. By steep seven, the stonefruit and citrus start to fade, though the floral and vegetal notes are still enjoyable. Later steeps have notes of spinach, asparagus, and grass with the odd hint of florals.
This tea feels like summer to the Perfect’s spring. I like the headier florals and the greater amount of stonefruit, though using my preferred brewing method, it also steeps out fairly quickly. During the three weeks this package has been open, I’ve seen it evolve from a predominantly floral tea into one with the fruity flavours I enjoy, which leads me to believe that some enthusiasts might consider them a sign that a tea is getting older. Either way, it’s been fun to appreciate this oolong on an almost daily basis, and I’ll probably do this with some of my other high mountain oolongs.
Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Cookie, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mandarin, Nectarine, Orchid, Osmanthus, Spinach, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vegetal
I recently joined TeaForum, which has a sometimes intimidatingly knowledgeable group of tea drinkers and vendors. One of these vendors is Ethan Kurland, who sells a small, highly curated selection of Taiwanese oolongs that have a high reputation among the cognoscenti. I picked up his three Shan Lin Xi oolongs, along with samples of some other things. I also bought two 30 ml clay teapots, which I’ll be using as the world’s tiniest tea comparison set.
Of the three Shan Lin Xi oolongs, Perfect comes from the lowest elevation and is the most affordable. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of heady orchids, honeysuckle, other florals, honey, cookies, and grass. The first steep is a heap of buttery florals, including orchid, honeysuckle, and sweet pea, on a background of honey, cookies, grass, and green beans. The next steep adds sweet cream corn and a hint of something fruity, maybe apricot. The third steep has notes of green apple, coriander, and the herbaceousness I sometimes find in Shan Lin Xi oolongs. The tea is a bit more savoury, though the florals are still going strong. Subsequent rounds lean more toward spinach and beans, but the orchids, sweet peas, honeysuckle, and lilacs are very present until steep seven or so. The session ends with vegetal notes and hints of flowers.
This is a lovely oolong, especially given that it’s $0.19 per gram. The vendor compares it to a Baozhong and I think that’s accurate. I would have liked to see more fruit and for the tea to have lasted longer, but all in all, I’m very happy with it.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cookie, Coriander, Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Orchid, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal