Hmm, another day in and I have plowed through yet another oolong sample. This was another tea I meant to get to sooner. That seems to be the story of my life these days, intend to do something, get distracted, and then come back to it later. I haven’t felt particularly creative or inspired today, so let me just sum up everything I’m about to say by admitting that I found this tea to be merely okay overall.
I gongfued this one. No surprise there. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for those infusions were 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, and 5 minutes.
Before I begin breaking this tea down, allow me to state for the record that my perception of this tea greatly differed from that of the vendor and at least one previous reviewer. Prior to the rinse, I picked up aromas of coffee, dark wood, honey wheat, roasted grain, plantain, dark fruit, and something vaguely vegetal. Just about everything I had read told me I should have picked up honey, but I didn’t. After the rinse, I noted slight vanilla bean, honey, elderberry, and dried blueberry scents as well as emerging aromas of parsley, coriander, and celery. There was some vague spiciness too. The first infusion brought out cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of raisin. The honey was a little stronger, but not much. In the mouth, the tea liquor was very savory. I immediately picked up dark wood, roasted grain, honey wheat toast, mild cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, and plantain underscored by slight notes of vanilla, celery, elderberry, dried blueberry, parsley, honey, and coriander. Subsequent infusions brought out minerals, cream, butter, stewed apricot, and cooked leaf lettuce on the nose and in the mouth. Raisin and stronger vegetal notes also popped out in the mouth. Why was I not getting the strong honey impressions I was supposed to be getting? Later infusions seemed to emphasize minerals, dark wood, roasted grain, honey wheat toast, and vegetal aromas and flavors underscored by traces of cream, butter, indistinct fruit, and honey.
What happened here? Compared to some others, I almost felt like I was drinking an entirely different tea. What I expected to be very sweet, smooth, and honeyed actually ended up being toasty, grainy, woody, vegetal, and savory. For me, the honey was usually strongest right around the swallow, but even then it struck me as playing second fiddle to just about everything else going on in this tea. There were a couple infusions where it poked through for me, but it just wasn’t even close to being a dominant impression. Maybe it was just me. Maybe something was up with my sample. I don’t know. In the end, I could only really compare this to some of the other roasted Tieguanyins I have tried, and it did not compare all that favorably in my eyes. All I can say at this point is this tea didn’t quite do it for me, but I am also an outlier here.
Flavors: Apricot, Blueberry, Butter, Celery, Cinnamon, Coffee, Coriander, Cream, Dark Wood, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Lettuce, Mineral, Nutmeg, Parsley, Raisins, Toast, Vegetal, Wheat