I am happy, why you might ask? Because SNOW! Yes it is gently snowing out right now, and it plans on snowing on Thursday as well, and this pleases me. To celebrate this snow I had Ben help me with a tea picture taking session, though I only really lasted for one steep since I am small, Southern and freeze easily. Ah, I do love the frigid snow and fantasize about the rugged north, but I will have to enjoy it from my pile of blankets on the other side of a window.
It’s Yancha time! Today I am taking a look at Yezi Tea’s Shui Xian Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea, and the name of this tea confuses me. I am not sure if it is a blend of varietals (Shui Xian and Da Hong Pao) or a Shui Xian made to be a Da Hong Pao, I dunno, and frankly I am getting tired of trying to navigate the convoluted naming conventions of teas. Don’t worry, my passion for tea and knowledge is not at all diminished, I just sometimes like to pay attention to the tea and have its stories be secondary. The aroma of the leaves is sweet, nice notes of cocoa, raisins, and dried cherries with char, dried wood, and a distant note of smoke. It balances sweetness and char really well I think, one does not overwhelm the other.
Into ye’ol Yancha pot the leaves go for a hot and short steep, and the aroma of the wet leaves is very rich and sweet, notes of raisins and cocoa mix with autumn leaf pile and char, the char notes do not overwhelm, this tea errs more on the sweet side. The liquid is very pale of color for a Yancha, but the aroma is intense, strong notes of cocoa, raisins, and rich honey, with underlying notes of dried cherry, loam, and char. The char notes are very mild and the sweetness shines.
The first steep is pleasantly smooth and sweet, well it starts smooth in the mouth and a touch creamy with sweet notes of cocoa and dried fruit, it them moves to a slight dryness with tobacco and orchid notes. At the finish is straight up sweet chocolate that lingers for quite a while, though there was a definite lack of char this steep, and only a slight hint of mineral.
The aroma of the second steep has a bit ore char, and some smoke as well, with notes of cocoa, raisins, baked squash, and sweet cream. There is also a ghost of orchid, but it smells more like an orchid tossed on a bonfire rather than a bouquet. Wow, the second steep is super sweet and creamy, very smooth in the mouth and thick too! Notes of chocolate and char with autumn leaf pile at the first remind me of s’mores, in fact blending with the sweet burnt sugar notes and baked yeasty notes, it kinda is like liquid s’more. The finish has a sweet and gentle note of orchid and dry autumn leaves, with a cocoa shell note that lingers for quite a while.
Third steeping time, wow, the aroma did a turn around on me, no longer notes of chocolate and char, it is all sweet creamy honeysuckle and orchids. The taste is a delicate and sweet blend of honey, molasses, honeysuckles, cream, chocolate, and loam. The finish and aftertaste is really where this tea is at, it is exactly like burnt marshmallows, complete with a touch of campfire! This is a delicious tea, usually I like my Yancha with enough char that you might mistake it for actual steeped bonfire (I think because my first Yancha was Shui Hsien by Sea Dyke, super cheap but super good, so it is iconic in my mind) but changing things up with a lighter Yancha is fun, plus it broadens my spectrum of tastes which is always a plus. So whatever this tea is, be it a DHP or a Shui Xian, who cares, it tastes really good!