Hey all, before I start this review, I’d like to share a major life update. I know some of you are aware that I have been waffling on going back to school, and well, I think I have finally decided to do it. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time trying to figure out what I really want out of my professional life, and I finally came to the conclusion that a very public-oriented career was not going to be for me because I’m just not a people person. I have pretty serious anxiety issues, so something more stressful was also out of the question. I knew I needed something quiet that offered a tremendous amount of autonomy and alone time, so I have decided to become a librarian. There is a rather highly regarded graduate program in Library and Information Sciences at the University of Kentucky, which is just two hours west of where I’m living now, and since applications for the spring semester are being accepted until mid-November, I decided to go ahead and apply for it. I am in no financial shape to do this, but I also don’t have any real debts and no serious financial obligations, so I am at a point in my life where I can afford to start over from scratch. I figure I can also spend a semester going part-time and then move and work on acquiring funding over the summer when more assistantships become available. This field seems like a perfect fit for me because a good deal of my academic and professional background involves information management. I also think my background in composition and teaching will help me stand out a little from the crowd.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to talking about this tea. This tea represented a step into uncharted territory for me as I had never tried a Taiwanese white tea prior to trying this one. The best way for me to describe it would be almost like a Bai Mudan or Shou Mei but with the minty characteristics of a Red Jade black tea. I found it enjoyable, though I also felt that it was a bit rough in places and packed a caffeine wallop that was a bit much. Essentially, I would have to be in the mood for this sort of profile in order to approach another tea like this one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of malt, sweet potato, baked bread, wintergreen, and honey. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of butter and peppermint as well as a stronger wintergreen presence. The first infusion brought out subtle scents of vanilla, cream, and grass. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, grass, butter, and wintergreen that were chased by hints of baked bread, honey, vanilla, and sweet potato. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of brown sugar, autumn leaves, hay, earth, and celery as well as subtler scents of grape leaves, spinach, and green olives. I also detected slightly amplified cream and grass aromas. Notes of brown sugar, earth, hay, minerals, wood, coffee, and autumn leaves appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging peppermint notes, hints of butterscotch, and slightly stronger and more immediately noticeable baked bread and honey impressions. Impressions of green olive, celery, spinach, and grape leaf appeared as well. They were subtle at first but grew slightly stronger with each infusion until the tea started to fade. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, grass, hay, wood, grape leaf, butter, celery, and earth that were underscored by hints of wintergreen, sweet potato, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and spinach.
This was a very odd white tea. Its caffeine punch was reminiscent of a Red Jade black tea, and its aroma and flavor profiles were very bizarre. Still, its aroma and flavor components managed to work together better than expected. Though certain aroma and flavor components could be prickly or poorly integrated here and there, everything worked together for the most part. The mouthfeel of the tea liquor could also be a little rough in places. These are fairly minor quibbles, however, as I still consider this to be a high quality tea. Overall, it was enjoyable. There were just a few noticeable issues here and there that held it back in my eyes.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butter, Butterscotch, Butterscotch, Celery, Celery, Coffee, Coffee, Cream, Cream, Earth, Earth, Grass, Grass, Hay, Hay, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Honey, Honey, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Olives, Olives, Peppermint, Peppermint, Spinach, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal, Wood, Wood