Here is another oolong that I have rested for a little while. I did my first session with this tea last night. I stayed up late with the intention of cleaning my kitchen, but did not quite get around to it. Instead, I ended up watching television, listening to music, and drinking tea. Compared to some of the other Jin Xuan oolongs I have tried within the last year, this one was much subtler and came off as being more natural. It was very smooth and savory, though it simultaneously lacked the over-the-top milky, buttery qualities I have recently come to associate with Jin Xuan.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion with 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 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 gave off subtly milky, creamy, buttery aromas. After the rinse, the aromas of milk, butter, and cream intensified and were joined by subtle scents of sticky rice, custard, and fresh flowers. The first infusion produced a similar, though oddly more subdued, integrated bouquet. In the mouth, I detected very thin notes of cream, butter, custard, and steamed milk balanced by notes of grass and a slight nectar-like quality. Subsequent infusions were much more fulfilling, offering more pronounced floral aromas resembling a mixture of lilies, honeysuckle, and gardenia, as well as traces of grass, leaf lettuce, apricot, pear, and pineapple. The same qualities came through in the mouth. I noticed that the tea liquor was initially savory-it was packed with cream, butter, steamed milk, custard, and sticky rice notes underscored by a very subtle hint of vanilla-before introducing impressions of fruit, grass, leaf lettuce, and minerals on the finish. Later infusions offered hints of cream, butter, custard, grass, and lettuce on the nose. In the mouth, I detected thin notes of cream, butter, custard, grass, leaf lettuce, and spinach balanced by a somewhat heavier mineral presence and ghostly floral, fruity impressions.
Compared to many of the Jin Xuan oolongs I have tried within the last 12 months, this one was not nearly as fruity, sweet, or heavy. It presented a delicate, restrained layering of aromas and flavors. I could definitely appreciate this tea, but I found myself wishing at numerous points that the sweeter, fruitier, more floral qualities would have provided more balance to the tea’s smooth, savory and grassy, vegetal polarities. Giving a numerical score to this one has proven very difficult. A score of 72/100 feels like it is at least in the ballpark, if perhaps a bit harsh. I’ll go with that for now simply because this tea was decent enough, but in my opinion it was lacking something that would have made it more memorable and enjoyable.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Milk, Mineral, Pear, Pineapple, Rice, Spinach, Vanilla