WARNING: LONG REVIEW.
I’m sure that the samples I had were probably of Spring 2015 itself, but this is what comes the closest to in terms of the tasting notes I looked up. The first time I steeped my first sample, I followed the instructions of four grams for six ounces of water, fifteen second rinse with 205 degrees F water, and got nothing. One bare note of creaminess. I steeped it twenty seconds. Still, bare creaminess and floral notes, but otherwise, hot water. Then I did something outrageously stupid: I upped the amount to seven grams of leaves, half of them dry, half of them not, and brewed for 3 minutes….still way to light and barely present in ANY flavor. Other than my shining example of burning impulse, I didn’t know what I did wrong. I could barely get a taste-I was drinking light flower water.
And so, I decided to get another sample as a freeby with my order. I honestly couldn’t let the backlog above as my impression for this tea. I knew it HAD to be better. It was. This time, I used the full seven gram sample for seven ounces of water near 190 degrees F. The dry leaf smell offered so much more than the previous one: a very distinct vanilla orchid aroma invited me. There was almost a jasmine like sweetness to it, and the smell was amplified once brewed in hot water.
I rinsed it for fifteen seconds, drank it, and decided to do it western. I was really hoping to do it Gongfu style, but the tea was not quite strong enough for me personally to do it that way. Steep one: one minute, and primarily orchid, some sweetness and creaminess, with a vanilla accent. The mouthfeel was light, yet smooth and creamy. I was hoping for a little bit more taste, but the aroma made up for it therapeutically. Steep two, near two minutes, still seven ounces like the rinse and steep one, and got the full profile. Orchid, cream, vanilla, and flowers. Steep three was pretty similar at three minutes, but more floral, peachy and green than creamy and vanilla, and not quite as sweet as say a lychee, honeysuckle like steep two. Now on steep four, it’s light, but creamy and peachy with an undying floral faint character. I’m not sure if I’m going for steep five, but this one has a purity that I can savor.
I honestly had really high expectations for this tea, and was more critical than I have been of others. Tie Guan Yin holds a very special place for me. I was introduced to Green Oolongs by it, and unlike all others I’ve had, Tie Guan Yins have a distinctly divine quality. If you want to believe in the legend that names this tea, it is indeed divine in nature.This tea was, or rather, is a gift from the Iron Goddess of Mercy,the Bodhisattva Guanyin. When I drink a good Tie Guan Yin, I immediately think of this legend, and feel as if I’m drinking something from heaven. This is the type of tea that I can meditate to, the kind of healer that purifies me of all the leaching negativity of daily life.
Again, I have very particular expectations, and this time, they were met. This is purity in a cup like a good Tie Guan Yin is supposed to be. There are others that I might recommend over this one, but very few that hard to come by. I’d still recommend it, though more so for an experienced drinker. I wish I knew how to steep it better Gongfu, and I honestly might not recommend this to a newer drinker because of inexperienced steeping parameters (as clear in my prior dunce).
Rating is a bit difficult for me on this one. I think that it deserves a range in the 90’s, but in terms of my preference for slightly stronger teas, I’m putting it at an 85.
Thank you David for this wonderful tea!