It seems I can’t refrain from hitting the Taiwanese high mountain oolongs these days. After having an oolong from Fushou Shan yesterday evening, I had to go with an Ali Shan today. Before I get to the tea itself, allow me to state that I have been guilty of displaying tremendous ambivalence toward Ali Shan oolongs in the past. For some reason, I have always found them to be predictable, lightweight, and boring. This tea forced me to reevaluate my leanings toward these teas.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 10 seconds. I was a little confused over the water temperature. The sample pouch suggested 176 F, but What-Cha’s website suggested 185 F. I ultimately went with the water temperature suggested on the sample pouch. The initial infusion was followed by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 pleasant aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, grass, and flowers. After the rinse, the butter, cream, and vanilla aromas intensified. They were joined by a subtle scent of custard as aromas of gardenia, lilac, and honeysuckle emerged. The first infusion produced a more balanced aroma with a stronger custard presence. In the mouth, the liquor was very smooth and savory. I detected notes of butter, cream, custard, vanilla, and grass balanced by traces of gardenia, lilac, and honeysuckle. Subsequent infusions saw the impressions of honeysuckle, gardenia, and lilac intensify. Aromas and flavors of tangerine, cucumber, magnolia, and minerals also emerged. Later infusions were dominated by butter, cream, grass, and minerals underscored by tangerine and a distant floral presence.
This was an interesting oolong. I’m used to Ali Shan oolongs that are kind of slight and lacking in staying power, but this one went the distance. While the aroma and flavor profiles were neither particularly complex nor anything out of the ordinary for a high mountain oolong, they were very pleasant. This tea also displayed a light, yet subtly textured body, and it provided a gentle, immediate calming sensation that was highly enjoyable. For me, this one was a winner. What-Cha’s Taiwanese oolongs continue to impress me.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Vanilla