This was one of my last sipdowns of 2019. I had been curious about this tea for some time, and after a conversation about the lifespan of teas in storage with a fellow Steepsterite in which this tea was mentioned as being one that didn’t hold up, I decided to break it out and give it a try. Leafhopper, I know I promised you I would post a review of this tea nearly a month ago or something like that. Sorry about the wait. Anyway, here are my thoughts on this tea’s vitality after nearly two years of storage: I could not tell that what I had of it had faded at all. It was a little more mellow than a super fresh Dancong oolong, but I could not pick up any signs of deterioration. As a matter of fact, I greatly enjoyed this tea. I found it to be a great Dancong oolong. I went into my review session expecting to end up kicking myself over waiting too long to try it, but by the time I wrapped the session up, all I could think about was how spectacular this tea struck me as being.
Now, with all of the above being said, I could very well be the outlier here. My experience may not reflect that of others in any way. To be sure, there will be differences in perception from person to person. The amounts of tea that different people will receive from the same batch may be of different quality. There will be differences in a tea’s lifespan in storage based on individual storage practices and differences in environment. Certain pouches of tea can even be sealed improperly, resulting in contamination and/or deterioration prior to shipment. So many things can happen that can lead different people to have totally differing opinions of the same tea, and that’s before you can consider things like differences in equipment used, water type and quality, brewing methods, the overall condition, attention span, and experience level of the person doing the tasting, etc. It’s very, very rare that two opinions will be identical, and it may very well not happen at all as every palate is different.
Anyway, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of rose, cream, butter, custard, pear, lychee, tangerine, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and grass. The first infusion saw the rose aroma intensify and a subtle coriander scent appear. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of rose, grass, butter, cream, and sugarcane that were balanced by subtler notes of lemon zest, cracked pepper, coriander, pear, custard, and green apple. The subsequent infusions teased out aromas of lemon zest, orange candy, cracked pepper, grapefruit, green apple, dandelion, basil, and baked bread. Stronger and more immediately apparent impressions of green apple, pear, coriander, lemon zest, and cracked pepper appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging lychee and tangerine notes and impressions of orange candy, minerals, dandelion, dandelion greens, and yellow plum. I also noted hints of basil, violet, baked bread, grapefruit, and roasted almond. Each swallow left a lingering herbal coolness and a pleasant aftertaste of rose and green apple. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, green apple, grass, pear, dandelion greens, lemon zest, coriander, cream, butter, and sugarcane as well as suddenly amplified impressions of roasted almond. Subtler notes of rose, dandelion, custard, tangerine, and basil lingered in the background.
This was a very challenging and unique tea, but it was also very enjoyable. It was very tightly layered and demonstrated a good deal of complexity. This tea also displayed a number of aroma and flavor components that I do not often get out of Dancong oolongs. Overall, I did not have a problem with this one, though I do have to admit that I think I may have gotten a bit lucky with it. Teas that are very tightly composed and have tons of little intricacies can produce a liquor that seems totally dead on the nose and in the mouth if you have recently had anything to eat or drink or if you are having any sort of sinus and allergy issues. I have chronic sinusitis and terrible seasonal allergies. I normally get infection after infection over the winter months, but I have been fortunate so far this winter and tried this tea on a warm, clear day when I was not having any issues and had not consumed anything else prior to my drinking session. I think that’s why I got as much out of this tea as I did. And who knows? I also may have gotten lucky with the amount of tea I had in the sense that it may have just held up better in storage for me. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing. But yeah, I did enjoy this tea and found it to be an excellent offering overall.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Candy, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Grapefruit, Grass, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Mineral, Orange, Pear, Pepper, Plum, Rose, Sugarcane, Vegetal, Violet