My Fibromyalgia is kicking my backside lately, that complaining earlier in the week of being sick alongside the rest of the people in the house, well I have a secret. I don’t get viruses oddly enough, instead in the desperate attempt for my immune system to surprisingly do its job I get a flair up instead, pros and cons, having a week of severe joint and muscle pain over a week of a messed up sense of smell and taste is better for the blog, plus I feel blind when my nose is not working, meaning clearly I am a star-nosed mole. Also, you all guessed it, I might be in pain but I am in a great mood today, tomorrow being my birthday helps, but really I have yet another secret, this one will have to wait to be revealed but I am super excited about it.
Today I am looking at Origins Tea Shui Xian, a Taiwanese Oolong. You might be saying ‘now hold on Amanda, that is a Wuyi Oolong, from China, what are you on about with Taiwanese?’ Well, a while ago Wuyi Oolongs were brought over to Taiwan, usually you see Taiwanese Tie Guan Yin, but it was not the only tea brought over. It is really fascinating seeing how terroir affects taste, and how different processing affects taste, because as you noticed this is not a long strip style Oolong, it is all rolled up in typical Taiwanese fashion. though not as tightly rolled as some. I will warn my Yancha loving friends, don’t go into this one expecting a high char, super roasted, kick in the face like you would from a Wuyi Shui Xian, this is its delicate and subtle cousin. Sniffing the leaves brings the first hint this is a whole different animal, notes of orchid, gentle toasted yeasty bread, plums, caramelized sugar, toasted hazelnuts, and a gentle blend of earthy and wet coals. I say wet coals specifically because the char is mellow and blended with the earthy back tone it truly smells like coals of a wood fire the day after a rain, it reminds me of happy camping adventures.
I decided to (literally) dust off my roasted Oolong yixing, yes the good old lidless barrel pot! One day I will actually find a lid for it instead of just putting the cup on top while steeping, though probably not. The aroma of the unrfurled leaves is pleasantly nutty, notes of toasted hazelnuts and roasted chestnut blend with dried cherries and honey drizzled toast made from a sweet yeasty farm bread. The liquid is full of surprises, notes of toasted nuts, gentle char, fruity pipe tobacco, and honeyed toast blend with a delicate distant orchid note. It is funny, but my brain always registers flowers and char as someone throwing a bouquet into a bonfire and I just want to know why someone would do that!
First steep, and you know, I am just going to lay this on the line, if I ever have the opportunity to go on a hay ride I want this tea to come with me, it is just so autumn! Notes of roasted chestnuts, dried cherries, honey drizzled toast and kettlecorn blend with tobacco and distant char, it reminds me of the distinct taste that the air gets during autumn and I adore it. The mouthfeel is smooth with a buttery upturn at the finish, the aftertaste is a lingering honey sweetness that sticks around for a decent time.
On to the next steep, the leaves have almost fully unfurled and the aroma has taken on a slightly sweeter and stronger char note, like a raw honey drizzled burnt stick, trust me it smells better than it sounds. The taste notes from the firststeep are still present, they are a bit stronger but maintain their sweetness. Sometimes I find roasted teas lose their sweetness in later steeps while ramping up the char and other notes, but not this tea. The roast is mellow being reminiscent of toasted nuts, caramelized sugar, and kettlecorn. If you want a roasted tea that stays on the mellow side this is a good one.
I went for many steeps of this tea, it was a fantastic companion for painting, which is how I drank it. It is no secret by now that I love Oolongs that last a long time, are roasted, and make good painting companions, aka are mellow and sweet with distinct notes and nuances without being too overwhelming and distracting me from painting. It needs to be flavorful enough to keep my mind active (my brain likes multiple things going on while I am focusing, fun fact I cannot write a blog without music or Youtube playing in the background) and the notes of sweet kettlecorn, toasted chestnuts and hazelnuts, and distant flowers do just the trick.
blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/11/origins-tea-shui-xian-tea-review.html