One of the many Southeast Asian oolongs I have been working my way through over the past couple of days, so far this tea has been the most disappointing of the bunch. What’s worse is that I have now tried two different harvests of this tea from two different years (this review focuses on the 2017 harvest) and have come away less than impressed each time. While this tea did admirably combine some aspects of the Jin Xuan and Cui Yu cultivars, I found that it did not offer enough of the most appealing qualities of either to leave a lasting impression on me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 13 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, butter, custard, and grass. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of sugarcane and violet. The first infusion then brought out scents of lettuce and spinach. In the mouth, the liquor offered mild, subtle notes of butter, cream, grass, and sugarcane accompanied by vague hints of lettuce and spinach. Subsequent infusions began to bring out hints of custard and violet in the mouth. New impressions of vanilla, seaweed, honeydew, and minerals emerged, as did fleeting impressions of baked bread, coriander, and pear. I noticed a brothy umami quality on several of these infusions and much stronger spinach notes all around. The later infusions offered lingering impressions of minerals, butter, and cream as well as hints of grass, seaweed, and sugarcane here and there.

Um, this was just kind of a boring, bland oolong with a very flat, almost lifeless presence in the mouth. The tea did not seem to be stale, and since I have now had two different harvests of this tea and have gotten similar results with each, the only conclusion I can draw at this point is that’s just how this particular tea is. I brewed the final 4 grams of this tea in the Western style and the results were a little better, but not much. If you are into subtle, vegetal oolongs, I can see this one maybe doing something for you, but if you’re expecting a nice balance between the smooth, milky Jin Xuan and floral, grassy Cui Yu, it is my opinion that you may not be all that impressed. I may try this one again at some point in the future, but I also may pass on it. One is about as likely to occur as the other.

Flavors: Bread, Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Grass, Honeydew, Lettuce, Mineral, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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