A couple months back, Totem Tea offered to send me some free samples in exchange for a review of each on Steepster. Now I am not one to ever turn down free tea, regardless of how large my backlog of reviews is or how much tea I already possess, so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. I have been promising to get around to posting reviews for at least two or three weeks, and here I am finally get a start on that. Of the teas I was sent, this was the first I tried. I found it to be a very nice, sophisticated Gui Fei oolong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. The instructions on the sample pouch instructed me not to rinse the tea, but as I always rinse oolongs, I opted for a flash rinse (water on, water off). After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 200 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by infusions of 12 seconds, 15 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I caught aromas of honey, prune, and nectarine coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I discovered interesting scents of rose, cedar, and roasted almond. The first infusion brought out a subtle orange scent. In the mouth, I found predictably light notes of honey, rose, roasted almond, and orange accompanied by hints of malt and cream. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger cream and malt impressions while the cedar, nectarine, and prune notes showed up in the mouth. I also began to get notes of butter, peach, saffron, violet, baked bread, geranium, lemon, toasted cashew, and minerals underscored by a slight charcoal presence. The later infusions offered lingering impressions of cream, minerals, malt, and charcoal balanced by touches of honey and dried fruit.
It was obvious to me that this was a quality Gui Fei oolong. There was a lot to appreciate about it. I was a little disappointed that I did not get more sweetness out of the last series of infusions, but that may have had more to do with the way I brewed the tea and my ongoing battle with seasonal allergies than anything else. Overall, I was rather impressed. Check this one out if you are a fan of bug-bitten oolongs.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cedar, Char, Cream, Fruity, Geranium, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Roasted Nuts, Rose, Saffron, Violet