Well, I finally caved and got six teas from Tillerman, just in time for no one to be able to read my notes. That figures. I was also certain there were some reviews of Shan Lin Xi oolongs from this company that I could use as points of reference, but I can’t find any, possibly due to all the Steepster glitches. As I’ve probably said before, Shan Lin Xi oolongs are among my favourites and this one was affordable, so into my cart it went. More or less according to the vendor’s instructions, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 30, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few long steeps.

The dry aroma is of resin and sweet flowers. The first steep has heady notes of orchid, lilac, and sweet pea, plus slight resin, custard, grass, and butter. The second steep has herbs, spinach, lettuce, grass, custard sweetness, and flowers. This tea has gone vegetal really quickly, and I wonder if I oversteeped it. The body is still smooth and heavy, and maybe this is what is meant by “good grip?” The third steep gives off a waft of some sort of “mountain glade” air freshener, which is probably a combination of flowers and sweetness and is actually kind of appealing. The tea achieves a good balance of vegetal, floral, and resin in the next three or so rounds, and there’s a tiny bit of cooked pineapple in the liquor and at the bottom of the cup. The next couple steeps introduce more veggies, including spinach and kale, and a condensed milk sweetness. As expected, the final few steeps are more or less grassy and vegetal.

This tea fits my idea of what a Shan Lin Xi should be, though it has fewer fruity notes than its counterpart from Floating Leaves. (They’re both somewhat pricy U.S. companies made even less affordable by the exchange rate, so I naturally tend to compare them.) As the session progressed, my rating went up from an 80 to an 83 to an 86, which is a fair indication of its quality. Surprisingly, Tillerman’s steeping parameters worked, and I might start subjecting all my high mountain oolongs to boiling water now.

Flavors: Butter, Custard, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Kale, Lettuce, Milk, Orchid, Pineapple, Resin, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).



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