I’ve tasted about a dozen ali shan offerings (most of them quite green, slightly-roasted like this one). Upon comparison, this is a standout. When it comes to floral aromas, I found some lovely ones within, lilac among them. However, it’s not as strongly floral as some I’ve had (and I do cherish those floral notes). Where this Pure Heart shines is the leaf freshness and tenderness and the even coverage of oxidation across the leaf. Obviously there was a lot of careful attention paid to bruising this crop, and it delivers a great drinking experience. Rich flavors of butter and corn are a delightful contrast to a light-bodied liquor which is clean and sparkling like champagne.

The pickers took complete budsets down to the third open leaf, yielding finished nuggets of dry tea that are large and fat. Many of the nuggets sport a ‘handle’ of stem which I’ve come to associate with hand-picked products. Gazing at the steeped budsets transports me to the tea fields in my mind’s eye. They are so juicy and tender that I am inclined to gobble up 90% of the leaf and stem, as if it were steamed asparagus. I wonder what it would taste like with a little bit of vinegarette dressing … something to explore with a future session’s results. I’m having my tea and eating it, too! This ali shan is an opportunity to discover the sweetness of stems, which are often sweeter than the leaves. This revelation has caused me to view stemmy tea with a less doubtful eye.

5 grams tea / 3 ounces water. Short rinse, followed by a rest … then steeps from one to ten minutes, with higher temperature in later ones.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Oh hi! It’s been a while since I’ve seen you around :)

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Oh hi! It’s been a while since I’ve seen you around :)

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Note: I’m open to offers to swap tea samples. If you can’t message me, just comment on one of my tea notes, and I’ll respond.

I am fascinated and deeply impressed by the artistry and skill which coaxes such an array of qualities from one species of leaf. In 2009, I founded San Antonio Tea & Herb Enthusiasts. In 2014, a move to Southern California creates both upheaval and new horizons. The best part is that now I live quite close to my son and his family.

For intimate tastings with a small gathering, I’m practicing Asian-style tea service along the lines of Chinese gongfu cha. It is a joy to share good tea!

The most recent sign of my conversion to the deeply-steeped side: I’ve turned three large file boxes into “tea humidors” for aging pu-erh cakes and bricks at 65% humidity. Remote sensors within the “pumidors” relay the temperature and humidity readings to a base station on my desk. It satisfies my scientist aspect and keeps tea pretty well, too.


Southern California, USA



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