Here is another review from the backlog. I was waiting to get through a couple more sipdowns before posting anything else here on Steepster, but I may as well just go ahead and get some more reviews out of the way. I kind of forgot about this one. I finished a 25g pouch of this tea a couple weeks ago, but at the time, I was focusing on getting some green tea reviews out of the way and decided to hold off on posting a review of it until I finished them all. I then ended up moving on to other teas, posted reviews of them here, and completely ignored this one. This all reminds me that I really need to get into the habit of reviewing teas in the order I finish them.
This particular tea was a pleasant surprise, especially considering that I was not expecting much from it. I used to buy from Tealyra regularly, but after finding the customer service to be a little lacking and the freshness and quality of the teas occasionally suspect, I started buying less from them and more from other vendors. With that and the fact that Chou Shi is far from one of my favorite styles of Dancong oolong in mind, I figured this tea would provide a pretty forgettable experience at best. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did the leaf quality appear to be very high, but this was an extremely pleasant, aromatic, and flavorful tea to boot.
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 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 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, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I detected pronounced aromas of sweet cream, vanilla, orchid, sweet pea, honeysuckle, and gardenia coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found an emerging scent of custard. The first proper infusion then introduced a violet scent to the tea’s bouquet. In the mouth, I found expected notes of sweet cream, vanilla, gardenia, and sweet pea as well as a note of butter. The subsequent infusions introduced butter to the nose while notes of custard, orchid, violet, and honeysuckle quickly appeared on the palate. New impressions of minerals, grass, green apple, pear, orange, and sugarcane also started to make themselves known. The last infusions displayed soft and rather muted impressions of cream, butter, vanilla, grass, and minerals balanced by fleeting gardenia, sweet pea, green apple, and violet notes.
Chou Shi Dancongs can often be temperamental little beasts. Water temperature and quality, age of the tea, and even the brewing vessel used can wreak havoc on them, perhaps even more so than many other types of oolong. Sometimes they can be wonderful despite anything and everything working against them, while other times a tea seemingly in its prime with everything going for it can come off like little more than hot, sweet grass water. That being said, this proved to be an immediately gratifying tea on a number of levels, and though I am only discussing and rating the gongfu preparation here, I tried this tea Western and iced and both preparations produced fine results. As Chou Shi Dancongs go, one could do a whole lot worse than giving this one a shot.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Pear, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet