The weather has turned colder here, so my sinuses are acting up yet again. To make matters worse, my senses of smell and taste are once again spotty. I’m still not back at full strength from the severe respiratory infection I’ve been fighting off for the past couple of weeks either. Since I can’t properly evaluate them right now, all of those lovely green teas and high mountain oolongs will have to wait. Fortunately I can still get something resembling the full effect from bug-bitten and/or more heavily roasted oolongs such as this one.
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 up with 12 subsequent 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 emitted aromas of honey, nectarine, and wood. After the rinse, the honey, nectarine, and wood aromas intensified and were joined by scents of osmanthus, toast, and roasted almond. The first infusion produced a similar, though more balanced bouquet. I was able to detect thin notes of wood, roasted almond, toast, osmanthus, nectarine, apricot, and honey in the mouth. Subsequent infusions featured more prominent impressions of honey, toast, roasted almond, apricot, osmanthus, and nectarine balanced by emerging lemon, orange, and rose aromas and flavors. Subtle traces of herbs and minerals were also detectable on the finish. Later infusions were quick to wash out, though I could still detect subtle herb, honey, toast, wood, citrus, and rose notes beneath the mineral presence.
To be clear, this was far from a bad tea, but I could not help comparing it unfavorably to the last couple of Taiwanese Gui Fei oolongs I have tried. The main problem I have with this tea is that it was too similar to a typical Taiwanese Gui Fei for me to consider it unique, yet it displayed just enough subtle differences for one to deduce that it was not a Taiwanese tea. I’m probably being a bit harsh here because this was far from a bad tea, but it was hard for me to figure out how to take it. I couldn’t quite compare it directly to classic Taiwanese takes on the style, yet could not quite treat it as a unique twist on the style either. Overall, I liked the citrus and rose notes, as well as the pronounced bready, nutty, and honeyed characteristics, yet I would also probably not reach for this over a Taiwanese Gui Fei if that makes any sense.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Floral, Herbs, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Orange, Osmanthus, Rose, Toast, Wood