This was one of my last sipdowns in September. I recall buying a sample of this tea during either the summer or fall of 2016. I was just getting into some of What-Cha’s offerings at the time and was experimenting with aged Tie Guan Yin, but after a number of bad experiences with aged Tie Guan Yin from other vendors, I shelved this tea indefinitely. Clearly, curiosity got the better of me late last month. I’m glad it did because this ended up being a very enjoyable tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves and dried bitter melon pieces in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 19 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaf and melon piece blend emitted aromas of raisin, dried blueberry, pine, plum, cedar, and malt. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of fig, butter, cream, black raspberry, and black currant. The first infusion introduced aromas of black cherry and roasted almond. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of raisin, dried blueberry, cedar, pine, malt, butter, cream, and fig that were complimented by hints of black raspberry, black currant, roasted almond, black cherry, and earth. The following infusions introduced aromas of vanilla, brown sugar, roasted barley, baked bread, roasted hazelnut, cinnamon, and straw. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of black cherry, earth, and roasted almond appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging notes of plum and butter. Impressions of baked bread, minerals, vanilla, roasted barley, roasted hazelnut, orange zest, and straw also appeared alongside hints of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cattail shoots, and peat. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, earth, baked bread, roasted barley, pine, butter, and cream that were balanced by a late popcorn note and hints of raisin, plum, straw, cattail shoots, orange zest, and vanilla.
This was a very nice aged oolong. Though I often find that aged oolongs, especially aged Tie Guan Yin, can develop something of a musty, papery profile, this one was very smooth and balanced with a nice, complimentary blend of aromas and flavors. Nothing seemed out of place. My only complaints with this tea were that it started to fade a little sooner than anticipated, and some of its more intriguing aromas and flavors faded a little too soon. Otherwise, this was a very enjoyable offering.
Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Earth, Fig, Hazelnut, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peat, Pine, Plum, Popcorn, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Straw, Vanilla, Vegetal