I only had ten grams of this tea to work with, thus I went ahead and polished it off simply to get through another Dancong before the end of the month. I finished it two days ago, and now that I have had some time to think about it, I have concluded that this was a more or less excellent Ya Shi Xiang Dancong oolong. My only quibbles with it were that I expected higher leaf quality (There was a lot of broken leaves in what I received.), and like many Dancong oolongs, it faded rather quickly.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 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 was able to detect aromas of nectarine and honey accompanied by something of a clay-like earthiness. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of cream, citrus, rose, peach, and orange blossom. The first proper infusion brought forth new aromas of vanilla and rock sugar. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, rose, nectarine, peach, orange blossom, and rock sugar with vegetal, herbal, and earthy underpinnings in the background. Subsequent infusions brought out more distinct notes of damp grass, watercress, cattail shoots, earth, anise, and caraway, as well as impressions of sweet orange, lemon zest, toast, roasted almond, minerals, toasted grain, rye, apricot, pear, lychee, and marshmallow. The later infusions offered lingering impressions of minerals, pear, cream, damp grass, and roasted almond with fleeting notes of lychee, toast, citrus, and rock sugar in the background. Curiously, there was a surprising, yancha-like hint of popcorn hull on several of the later infusions.
I’m quickly opening up to Ya Shi Xiang Dancongs, and to me, this one was a winner. While I would have liked to see leaf quality on par with that shown in Yunnan Sourcing’s photographs, this was still an extremely complex tea that offered a nice, smooth texture in the mouth and hardly any soapiness. I think Dancong fans would get a kick out of it.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Earth, Grain, Grass, Honey, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange, Orange Blossom, Peach, Pear, Popcorn, Rose, Rye, Stonefruits, Sugar, Toast, Toasted, Vanilla, Vegetal