Now that I once again have some time to get a few more reviews posted, I wanted to start off with one of my more recent sipdowns. I only had a sample pouch of this tea, but it took me forever to get around to drinking it. It was actually the last of the 2018-2019 Old Ways Tea samples that I had clogging up my cupboard, and I think I took so long to get around to trying it because I know very little about Que She. I had only tried one other Que She previously, and it did not strike me as being very good, so I had virtually no expectations of this tea. Well, it turned out to be an excellent offering and a hidden gem among Old Ways Tea’s 2019 product lineup.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 19 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of charcoal, bread, pomegranate, blackberry, pine, dark chocolate, black cherry, raisin, and prune that were underpinned by a subtle smokiness. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, tar, roasted peanut, roasted barley, and toasted rice appeared along with a more pronounced smokiness. The first infusion added a subtle mineral scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered delicate and often elusive notes of charcoal, pine, bread, black cherry, pomegranate, raisin, blackberry, tar, smoke, roasted barley, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of raspberry, dark chocolate, roasted peanut, earth, and roasted walnut. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of blueberry, raspberry, peach, hibiscus, roasted walnut, orange zest, juniper, and grape leaf to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of dark chocolate, earth, roasted peanut, and roasted walnut appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, orange zest, blueberry, rock sugar, red grape, caramel, grape leaf, hibiscus, black currant, and cream flavors. Some hints of toasted rice, peach, prune, juniper, and gooseberry could also be detected at times. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, pine, bread, roasted barley, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted walnut, orange zest, grape leaf, earth, and cream, though often ghostly impressions of black cherry, blackberry, red grape, pomegranate, hibiscus, juniper, smoke, tar, black currant, peach, and gooseberry still hung around in the background.
An interesting, challenging, and incredibly complex offering, this Que She was difficult to compare to any other Wuyi oolong I have tried. Though very aromatic and flavorful, it frequently emphasized texture over any of its other attributes, and while many Wuyi oolongs produce a liquor that possesses a very sharp or crisp mouthfeel, this tea produced one that was light, slick, and only slightly prickly. Overall, it had a very coy and playful presence and produced a very subtly invigorating energy. The way this tea balanced its odd blend of aroma and flavor components was also incredibly impressive. At this point, I can only conclude by stating that it was a winner and deserved a chance from me long before I decided to give it one.
Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Caramel, Charcoal, Cherry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Gooseberry, Grapes, Hibiscus, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Pomegranate, Prune, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Toasted Rice, Vegetal, Walnut