22 Tasting Notes
All winter I have been waiting patiently to try the first new teas of 2010….and I finally got my chance this past weekend! During a visit to the wonderful Stone Leaf Teahouse in Middlebury, VT, I was pleased to discovered that they had three of the new spring teas in stock, including this Bi Luo Chun that was processed just two weeks before.
I’ve brewed it twice now and have been very impressed with the results. The flavor is (not surprisingly) very fresh and vibrant, but what did surprise me was how durable this tea was. I expected one or two good infusions and then nothing but warm water after that. I was also expecting that I would have to be very careful about my water temperature and infusion time. However, I found that it was nearly impossible to make this tea bitter and it actually responded quite well to near-boiling temperature water.
A real treat; it’s amazing to have tea so fresh!
This is one of the best unroasted, young baozhong teas that I have tried. Very fresh and full-flavored, with a gorgeous aroma that reminds me of fresh lilacs. It’s too bad that it’s currently sold out but I’m sure Floating Leaves owner Shiuwen will have a Spring 2010 version of this tea in shortly.
I tried Mao Jian for the first time last night during a visit to Dobra. It is a very unique tea that blends the grassy, fresh and subtle qualities of a good Chinese green tea with the boldness of a young oolong. The light and refreshing qualities of this tea really make me think of a spring day, which makes this tea perfect for this time of year.
While I’m an avid fan of oolong teas, I had never tried a Dan Cong until last night. I’d always been kind of intimidated by their cult following and all of the single bush vs. multiple bush talk, so I just ended up avoiding them.
I had some rare free time last night so I decided to go to Dobra and try something new. I’d tried every oolong on their menu except for the Feng Huang Dan Cong, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I was very impressed. The medium roasting gave it a wonderful aroma and full-flavor, while floral and fruit notes (definitely apricot as was mentioned, along with a bit of grapefruit citrus) dominated the aftertaste. Strangely, it reminded me a bit of the Traditional Dong Ding offered by Floating Leaves.
Only complaint would be that it has a bit more astringency than I usually like in an oolong, so it probably wouldn’t be a regular long-session tea for me. That said, it’s bursting with flavor and will definitely be a go-to tea over the next few months.
I picked up this tea during a visit to the Cha Guan shop in August 2009. I’m enjoying a cup today six months later and it hasn’t lost any of its vibrance. This is a very unique tea—the leaves are very long and flat, and while it is a Chinese green, it has a vegetal taste that is more reminiscent of Japanese senchas or even gyokuro.
It is a fairly sensitive tea that can be prone to bitterness if brewed too long/too hot and it also doesn’t hold up to longer gong fu sessions well. However, it is a wonderful tea for special occasions.
I’m a big fan of Taiwanese high mountain oolongs, and this Li Shan from Camellia Sinensis is one of my personal favorites. While most high-mountain oolongs require a long infusion to draw out the subtle flavors, this Li Shan makes a hearty and fragrant cup in just over 1 min. when brewed gong fu style and rewards with several quality reinfusions. The aroma is like the first lilacs of spring and the taste is fruity and thirst quenching. A wonderful tea to celebrate the coming of the new spring!
I received a generous sample of this tea from Stephane the last time I placed an order with Tea Masters. I was expecting much seeing as 1) it was a free sample and 2) at only 7 years old, it’s a pretty young sheng. Gladly, my expectations were far exceeded.
This is one of the best young shengs I have ever tried, mellow and complex beyond its years. It brews up a beautiful dark amber-red, and has an aroma of sweet pipe tobacco. The flavor is a perfect blend of earthy and floral, with just the slightest bitterness lingering at the back of the tongue, resulting in a lovely aftertaste. This is a very special tea that will be amazing in another 10+ years.
When I introduce friends to aged oolongs, this is usually the one I start with. It is a really difficult tea not to like! All of the classic flavors of young Tieguanyin are preserved, but are made much more mellow and complex through the 20+ year aging process. The brewed tea looks beautiful, a nice crimson red. The wood flavors in this tea are very strong, and it often reminds me a really good single malt scotch. While the tea is never bitter, there is a mouthfeel and flavor that also brings to mind a good port or dry sherry. Fantastic tea.