Now that I have cleared out the December 2018 backlog, I can move on to my first official sipdown of 2019. I finished a 25 gram pouch of this tea on either the second or third day of the month. I wanted to start 2019 out with something light and floral, so this ended up being the tea I selected to fill that role. Though it most certainly served its purpose, I have to say that I have had somewhat better Shan Lin Xi oolongs in the recent past. In general, Shan Lin Xi teas are incredibly hit or miss for me; I either freak out over them and love them, or I end up respecting and appreciating them to a certain extent before moving on to teas from terroir that I find more consistently appealing. The latter was kind of the case with this tea. It was very good for an unroasted Shan Lin Xi oolong, but like a lot of the Shan Lin Xi oolongs I have tried in the past, it was more savory and more vegetal than I would have preferred.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cream, butter, custard, and gardenia. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cinnamon and vanilla as well a meaty umami presence and vague vegetal hints. The first infusion introduced an even stronger umami scent and new aromas of grass, violet, and zucchini. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented brothy, meaty umami notes as well as impressions of zucchini, grass, cream, custard, and butter. I also picked up some subtle hints of gardenia before notes of vanilla, spinach, green apple, and daylily shoots took over on the swallow. Subsequent infusions introduced subtle aromas of pear and stronger scents of spinach, green apple, daylily, and baked bread. Stronger and more immediate daylily shoot, green apple, and spinach notes emerged in the mouth along with subtle impressions of cinnamon and violet. New notes of sweet corn, hyacinth, pear, seaweed, daylily, minerals, baked bread, and orange zest also appeared. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, umami, zucchini, grass, spinach, daylily shoots, and pear that were chased by hints of green apple, cream, and custard.

This was a very good Shan Lin Xi oolong, but it leaned a little too heavily on its vegetal and savory characteristics for my liking. I prefer Shan Lin Xi oolongs that are creamier, fruitier, and more floral, and while this tea displayed plenty of cream, fruit, and flower aromas and flavors, it often seemed to place more emphasis on its other characteristics over the course of my review session. Still, this was a very good tea. I am willing to bet that fans of teas that are more savory and more vegetal would get quite a bit of enjoyment out of it.

Flavors: Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, Zucchini

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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