This was another of my recent sipdowns and a tea from which I expected a little more. Li Shan teas usually do it for me, and What-Cha tends to do a great job of sourcing stuff from Li Shan. While this was still a very good tea overall, I have had better Li Shan oolongs.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the rolled leaf and bud sets in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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 minutes, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud sets emitted aromas of bread, honey, sweet potato, and cream. After the rinse, fresh aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, butter, and green wood emerged. The first infusion then added a slight banana scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, bread, malt, honey, roasted almond, roasted peanut, and green wood that were chased by delicate hints of banana, golden raisin, sugarcane, green apple, pear, caramel, and chocolate. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of sugarcane, chocolate, orange zest, lemon zest, caramel, and vanilla. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of caramel, chocolate, pear, sugarcane, and green apple emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, oats, orange zest, lemon zest, and sweet potato. Hints of grass, apricot, plum, cedar, juniper, peach, and cinnamon could also be detected around the fringes. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize lingering notes of minerals, cream, malt, bread, pear, roasted almond, roasted peanut, green wood, orange zest, and lemon zest that were chased by hints of honey, green apple, caramel, chocolate, sweet potato, sugarcane, and grass.
On the one hand, this tea offered a lot of the aromas and flavors I have come to expect of heavily oxidized and/or roasted Li Shan oolongs, but on the other hand, the oxidation was significant enough to bring out several notes I tend to get out of many black teas. Because of this, drinking this tea was something of an odd experience for me. It simultaneously reminded me of both Li Shan oolong and black teas, but it did not walk the line between oolong and black tea well enough to really stand out to me. It ultimately struck me as being a quality tea that had a few awkward characteristics and did not manage to do any one thing well enough to push it to the top of What-Cha’s small pile of consistently amazing Li Shan offerings.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Grass, Green Apple, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Raisins, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes