Teapot time. 5g, 100mL, 195F, 10s rinse (drank) and 10 loosely timed steeps of 10/15/20/25/30/35/45s and 1/2/5m.
Unknown harvest, first ever Taiwanese tieguanyin. This was a very complex tea and I found it difficult to form an entire picture of its characteristics so in this note, I’m focusing on aromas and tastes.
Dry leaf smelled surprisingly fruity and cool given this was roasted. There were also hints of roasted peanut and dark green vegetal. Warmed leaf produced very strong aromas of roasted peanut, dark chocolate, orchid? and marine. Rinsing the leaf really opened up the profile. It was strongly pungent, something like tomato sauce, sweetened collards and roast strangely turning into plum, purple raisin, dark chocolate and a hint of pineapple. Again it changed, ending with dark-roast coffee, collards, brown sugar and more pronounced pineapple.
Because of the unfolding nature of the rinsed leaf scent, I continued to sniff the leaves every steep and found them to be consistently strong in aroma with evolutions of charcoal, wood, brown sugar, dark chocolate, pomegranate, stewed greens, roasted grains, roasted peanut, wet wheat and mango. The liquor also was very fragrant, mostly with notes of light fruitiness, chocolate, marshmallow, roasted peanut and brown sugar. It reminded me a lot of the Charcoal-Roasted Yushan aroma. The bottom of the cup smelled like brown sugar throughout. With all that said, obviously the fragrance of this tea is very engaging and a highlight for me.
Moving onto the liquor. It remained fairly consistent and strong in flavor in the first three steeps, starting with kind of an oyster-seawater-seaweed and banana leaf on the sip, turning into pine, vanilla, salt, brown sugar and peanut. The second steep saw the addition of an unripe mango aftertaste. The mouthfeel was interesting. I’ve read in numerous reviews about teas with a powdery mouthfeel and this was the first time I experienced such a texture. That and a moderate astringency lasted the entire session.
Banana leaf came in heavier on the third steep and turned into green banana, persisting until the end. I also noted a strong cooling sensation, especially felt in my ears. By the fourth steep, the marine notes faded and there were additions of molasses, coffee and minerals. As the session progressed, the prominent tastes moved around a bit, with butter and rice, unripe mango, roasted chestnut, grapefruit, bubblegum and a metallic tone. In the end, the liquor became very astringent and ended with a pronounced butter. Aftertastes ranged from strong banana leaf/green banana to fermented fruit and buttered green vegetables.
As I said before, this was a very complex tea. Even though it seems there was a weird assemblage of robust aromas and tastes, they all flowed together really well. It was strangely cool and warm, marine, fruity, starchy, vegetal, savory, and salty. All of this together made for a session that really captured my attention and focus. I’m glad this was my introduction to Taiwanese tieguanyin and I’m really looking forward to dipping into the few others I have in my collection.