This was another recent sipdown of mine. I finished what I had of this tea a little earlier in the month, but I am not certain exactly when that was. Like most of the Dancong oolongs Yunnan Sourcing carries, this one was very good, great even. Prior to trying this tea, I recalled enjoying their spring 2016 Wu Dong Ba Xian greatly, but at the time, I had no real experience with Ba Xian and didn’t really know what to look for in one or what I should be trying to get out of the drinking experience. With a little more experience under my belt, I got more out of this tea and found it to be much more complex. There was, however, some nagging astringency toward the end of my review session that distracted me a bit, and I also found the tea’s most appealing characteristics to fade rather quickly.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of orchid, magnolia, pomegranate, cherry, cream, vanilla, and orange zest. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of almond, spinach, sugarcane, pomelo, apple, and honey. The first infusion brought out aromas of baked bread and custard. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, vanilla, baked bread, sugarcane, pomegranate, apple, cherry, orchid, and pomelo that were chased by impressions of magnolia and hints of orange zest, almond, and spinach. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pear, plum, wood, grass, jasmine, lychee, peach, orange blossom, and green bell pepper. Notes of pear, grass, plum, wood, lychee, minerals, white grape, peach, orange blossom, and green bell pepper came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate notes of almond, orange zest, and spinach, pleasant honey notes, and hints of custard and jasmine. Once the tea started to fade, the liquor settled and began emphasizing notes of minerals, grass, apple, almond, green bell pepper, cream, wood, pear, orange zest, and white grape that were underscored by hints of spinach, vanilla, baked bread, cherry, honey, and pomegranate. As mentioned above, a noticeable astringency also came out around this time.
There was a lot to like about this tea, but the astringency that kept coming out once it started to settle and fade really bothered me for some reason. It just seemed so distracting. Still, it did not come close to sinking the drinking experience for me, and one should always expect some astringency and/or bitterness with Dancong oolongs anyway. Had this tea carried some of its absolutely gorgeous floral notes into the later infusions and had the astringency not gotten to me, I would have had no issue assigning this tea a score of 95 or higher, but unfortunately, neither of those things happened. Just to be clear, though, this was still a more or less excellent Dancong oolong.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Jasmine, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, White Grapes, Wood