Continuing my series of high mountain oolong reviews this morning, we come to this Ali Shan oolong from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company. Curiously enough, I actually used 4 grams of this tea to do a multi-step Western session Saturday evening, but wasn’t thrilled with the results. I spent Sunday focusing on What-Cha’s excellent Ali Shan and then used the remaining 6 grams of this tea for a gongfu session early this morning while preparing for a conference out of town.
After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted subtle aromas of butter, cream, grass, and leaf lettuce. After the rinse, the leaf lettuce scent emerged more fully, while subtle floral and vanilla scents also began to make themselves known. The first infusion produced a more balanced bouquet with slightly more vanilla and more distinct floral scents of lilac, hyacinth, and honeysuckle. In the mouth, I picked up surprisingly muted notes of grass, butter, cream, and vanilla chased by a ghostly floral note. Subsequent infusions were a little more assertive, offering fleeting impressions of lilac, hyacinth, osmanthus, honeysuckle, apricot, coconut, mango, and hay at one point or another. The later infusions were smooth, yet rather bland, offering subtle butter, cream, grass, and leaf lettuce impressions underscored by faint fruitiness and minerals.
Honestly, I have had a few hours to process my feelings regarding this tea and I’m still not thrilled by it. This tea was so soft and clean on the nose and in the mouth and the more interesting aromas and flavors were so elusive that I found it difficult to remain interested in it over the course of the session. I pretty much stopped taking notes a little after the halfway point. Even the feel provided by this one was very timid and restrained. Compared to the Ali Shan from What-Cha, I found this one to be boring. It didn’t strike me as being bad, just boring and somewhat lightweight, maybe even a little bland overall. I would still recommend that curious drinkers give it a chance, but I do have to say that there are better Ali Shan oolongs out there.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Grass, Hay, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mango, Mineral, Osmanthus