Earlier in the year, I was both surprised and delighted that Steven Smith Teamaker was again dabbling in oolong and pu-erh teas. Normally, I think of this particular vendor when I think of high quality black teas and black tea blends, although I also have a soft spot for some of the tisanes, green teas, and white teas they offer. This year, they have three oolongs and one pu-erh available. This Taiwanese high mountain oolong is the only one of the bunch to come from anywhere outside of mainland China. It is produced from the Golden Lily tea cultivar, which I tend to associate with the creamy, buttery Jin Xuan oolongs I tend to love.
I prepared this tea using a slight variation of the gongfu method I used to prepare the Jade Oolong from Tealyra. I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 190 F water for 20 seconds following a quick rinse. I kept this session short. I only performed 5 additional infusions at 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30 seconds.
The first thing I noticed about this tea was that the aroma of the wet leaves really betrayed that this oolong was prepared from the Golden Lily cultivar. The aroma was very light, but emphasized a combination of cream and butter underscored by sweetgrass and a melange of fruits. In the mouth, the first couple of infusions offered light, airy notes of white peach, papaya, mango, apricot, cantaloupe, honeydew, honey, cream, custard, sweetgrass, and something very much resembling flower nectar. The middle infusions offered a more balanced array of aromas and flavors. On the nose, I picked up a slightly heavier fruit presence to balance out the cream and custard aromas. I also noted a slightly more pronounced vegetal scent, as well as a hint of very light minerality. In the mouth, I noted light notes of cream and custard balanced by fruit, nectar, and honey with more pronounced notes of sweetgrass, as well as leaf lettuce and minerals toward the finish. The last two infusions offered a milder and more vegetal nose with a more pronounced mineral aroma. In the mouth, I picked up on extremely delicate, fragile notes of sweetgrass, lettuce, and minerals underpinned by incredibly light floral, nectar, melon, peach, and honey notes.
I kind of liked this oolong, but I do have to say that I have had better. For me, the aromas and flavors were a bit too timid and delicate. I enjoyed the range of aromas and flavors displayed by this tea, but I would have liked to see greater depth. I was also slightly disappointed that the aromas and flavors faded so quickly, as I was kind of hoping for (but not entirely expecting) a slightly longer session. Still, I could see this being a good introduction to contemporary Taiwanese high mountain oolongs and would not really hesitate to recommend this tea to someone looking to get into them.
Flavors: Apricot, Cantaloupe, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Honeydew, Lettuce, Mango, Mineral, Nectar, Peach, Sweet