91

Teapot time. 5g, 100mL, 195F, 10s rinse (drank) and 10 loosely timed steeps of 10/15/20/25/30/35/45s and 1/2/5m.

Unknown harvest, first ever Taiwanese tieguanyin. This was a very complex tea and I found it difficult to form an entire picture of its characteristics so in this note, I’m focusing on aromas and tastes.

Dry leaf smelled surprisingly fruity and cool given this was roasted. There were also hints of roasted peanut and dark green vegetal. Warmed leaf produced very strong aromas of roasted peanut, dark chocolate, orchid? and marine. Rinsing the leaf really opened up the profile. It was strongly pungent, something like tomato sauce, sweetened collards and roast strangely turning into plum, purple raisin, dark chocolate and a hint of pineapple. Again it changed, ending with dark-roast coffee, collards, brown sugar and more pronounced pineapple.

Because of the unfolding nature of the rinsed leaf scent, I continued to sniff the leaves every steep and found them to be consistently strong in aroma with evolutions of charcoal, wood, brown sugar, dark chocolate, pomegranate, stewed greens, roasted grains, roasted peanut, wet wheat and mango. The liquor also was very fragrant, mostly with notes of light fruitiness, chocolate, marshmallow, roasted peanut and brown sugar. It reminded me a lot of the Charcoal-Roasted Yushan aroma. The bottom of the cup smelled like brown sugar throughout. With all that said, obviously the fragrance of this tea is very engaging and a highlight for me.

Moving onto the liquor. It remained fairly consistent and strong in flavor in the first three steeps, starting with kind of an oyster-seawater-seaweed and banana leaf on the sip, turning into pine, vanilla, salt, brown sugar and peanut. The second steep saw the addition of an unripe mango aftertaste. The mouthfeel was interesting. I’ve read in numerous reviews about teas with a powdery mouthfeel and this was the first time I experienced such a texture. That and a moderate astringency lasted the entire session.

Banana leaf came in heavier on the third steep and turned into green banana, persisting until the end. I also noted a strong cooling sensation, especially felt in my ears. By the fourth steep, the marine notes faded and there were additions of molasses, coffee and minerals. As the session progressed, the prominent tastes moved around a bit, with butter and rice, unripe mango, roasted chestnut, grapefruit, bubblegum and a metallic tone. In the end, the liquor became very astringent and ended with a pronounced butter. Aftertastes ranged from strong banana leaf/green banana to fermented fruit and buttered green vegetables.

As I said before, this was a very complex tea. Even though it seems there was a weird assemblage of robust aromas and tastes, they all flowed together really well. It was strangely cool and warm, marine, fruity, starchy, vegetal, savory, and salty. All of this together made for a session that really captured my attention and focus. I’m glad this was my introduction to Taiwanese tieguanyin and I’m really looking forward to dipping into the few others I have in my collection.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

I prefer straight loose-leaf and compressed tea, teabags for ease of use and herbal teas/tisanes. My favorite teas come from all over including China, Taiwan, Nepal, Darjeeling, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Georgia. The only one that doesn’t do much for me is Ceylon.

I abandoned my preference reference in early 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative description and because everybody uses a different rating scale. I’m still comfortable toggling the ‘Not/Recommended’ button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Some things about me:

Endless curiosity and fascination have led me to wear many hats. Stubbornness and naivety have led me down dark paths. The restlessness isn’t improving with age but at least at 37, I’m finally aware of my nature. I have high physical energy and love being around people but am easily exhausted. My most recent caricature is that of an environmental engineering masters dropout working in retail electrical sales. An impatient woman with a knack for making stupid decisions, a lover of Jesus, science, art, beauty and language who happens to ride a motorcycle and bicycle, dabbles in sax, wields a chainsaw and drinks tea out of tiny pots. They call me “Trouble”.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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