Continuing with my recent oolong obsession, I decided to give this tea a shot. I was intrigued by the idea of a Tieguanyin with stems and wanted to see if the inclusion of intact stems added anything to the flavor of the tea. Well, the stems did indeed add a little something to the flavor.

I chose to brew this tea gongfu style. In order to maintain a consistent brewing method, I brewed this tea using Verdant’s suggestions on their gongfu outline. The only thing I changed was the water temperature. I followed Tealyra’s suggestion with regard to that. I steeped approximately 6-7 grams of loose tea leaves (and stems in this case) in 4 ounces of 195 F water. The initial infusion following a quick rinse was 10 seconds. I followed this with 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 second infusions for a total of 9 infusions.

The early infusions provided a buttery, creamy aroma underscored by floral (orchid, violet, saffron, gardenia, jasmine) and woody characters. Notes of butter, cream, vanilla, sticky rice, custard, wood, jasmine, violet, orchid, saffron, gardenia, and fresh baked bread filled the mouth. Traces of minerals, hay, and grass were evident on the finish. Later infusions emphasized wood, cream, butter, custard, sticky rice, bread, and vanilla notes, though the floral aroma never fully disappeared. I also noted that the mineral and vegetal flavors became slightly stronger. The last 2-3 infusions emphasized cream, custard, butter, hay, grass, wood, and mineral aromas and flavors.

This is an interesting Tieguanyin, but it is not quite as robust as I would prefer. The inclusion of stems produces a somewhat woodier tea, which is kind of unique, but this is still very much in the style of a contemporary green TGY. That means curious drinkers should expect lots of cream and flowers. I like the aromas and flavors here, but this type of tea is nothing new to me, and I find the layering of flavors to be a bit rudimentary for my taste. What I mean by that is that I get a rush of flowers up front, then lots of creamy, bready, buttery notes, and finally a little vegetal and mineral character. If the floral character lingered a little longer and the floral notes separated a little more, I would have no qualms giving this tea an exceptionally high score. As is, this is still very nice and very approachable for a contemporary TGY. Just don’t expect something really different if you are familiar with this type of tea.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Saffron, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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