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High Mountain / Light Roast
These are commonly referred to as the High Mountain Oolongs. Some cultivars like Jin Xuan have a milky flavor, while others like Cui Yu carry orchids. There can be significant variation in oxidation and roasting, but it's typically below 50%, and most retain a taste that is alive and vibrant.
1988 Aged Ginseng Oolong
This powerful quarter-century oolong was aged alongside ginseng, and has mellowed beautifully while maintaining vitality.
Notes of ginseng, goldenseal, apricot pit, and leather.
Surprising to some, tea can be aged adding great new flavor profiles and nuances that new tea does not contain. Aging tea is an art and requires skill, attention and know-how. It is not just a matter of putting the tea away in a clay jar in the attic somewhere and finding it years later (although that also occurs). In order for tea to age well a number of conditions must be met relating to temperature, humidity and isolation from strong odors that can ruin a batch of aging tea. Tea that is not aged properly can have an overly sour taste and stale smell to the leaves. When aged with artistry something wholly new is created.
This treasured Aged Ginseng Oolong is such a treat! It has the mellowed smoothness of an aged oolong with the rich sweet finish that the gentle ginseng scenting provides. It is just a hint or light brush stroke of ginseng, most likely the dusting of a fine ginseng powder placed on the tea before its long slumber in clay vessels.This tea has a rich dark color that is smooth without any bitterness or astringency. It is satisfying and due to its age is of limited quantity.
Cui Yu Jade GABA
As High Mountain varieties go this Jade's nitrogen "oxidation" (GABA process) imparts a profile that is both toasty and floral. The later infusions become more vegetal and deep.
Notes of sesame, toast, dandelion flowers, and chocolate.
Cui Yu Jade GABA is a relatively new type of oolong with a very interesting profile with notes of earthy flowers and toasted nuts. Many people consume GABA tea for health / neurological benefits, and this one is especially delicious.
GABA stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric acid. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In Asia, particularly Japan, there is significant health buzz about it as being very calming, lowering stress and anxiety, helping abate mental fatigue, reducing risks of cancer, etc…
The process of making GABA tea is what makes it unique. Instead of oxidizing the leaves, the harvested leaves are processed and reduced in a oxygen free, nitrogen rich environment. The result is sometimes a tea that tastes smoother and warmer than a similarly oxidized tea. I've had some that are good, medium, and poor, so GABA isn't necessarily a hallmark of quality.
This light green high mountain GABA that uses the Cui Yu varietal, also known as Jade, is exceptional and has a clean, floral, and nutty profile with a round and balanced mouth-feel. There are notes of toasted sesame that later transform into a humid summer's day of cutting wild bramble, followed by returning to the house for a piece of rich chocolate.
Brew this Cui Yu Jade GABA like other Taiwanese semi-ball rolled oolongs with 200 degree water for 30 second infusions. To bring out more of the nutty quality increase the time. This is a forgiving tea that can handle lots of variation in brew time so feel free to experiment.
Dark Heavy-Roast Tie Guan Yin
Traditional Taiwanese heavy charcoal roasting is matched by the sturdiness the Tie Guan Yin varietal. The result is a very pleasant and deep roast.
Notes of warm caramel, burnt sugar, molasses, and amber.
Tie Guan Yin is perhaps the most famous of oolong varieties because of its complexity and resilience. That resilience is one of the reasons it was chosen for heavy roasting, which is one of the most traditional preparation methods. This tea is as pleasant as a cup of coffee on a weekend morning.
Tei Guan Yin was one of the transplants from China that thrived in Taiwan. No single variety will grow the same and with the same characteristics in two different places. This Tie Guan Yin is from Nantou County in the central mountainous region of Taiwan. Quality heavy roast Tie Guan Yin is hard to find in China these days, as they tend to roast them much lighter.
The Taiwanese are master roasters, and the traditional longan charcoal roasting process used for this tea lasted for over two weeks. Walking into a room of roasting tea leaves is like walking into a room of flowers and earth being warmed by a hidden sun.
In the roasting process, most of the floral properties of a high mountain oolong with be given up in favor of the warming and mellow properties of roasting. This Dark Roast Tie Guan Yin was chosen for heavy 80% roasting because it had a strong vitality and qi. Therefore the final product became two-dimensional: both strong roast and strong body.
Brew this tea longer to bring out the depth. I recommend 200 degree water with at least a 1 minute infusion. There is no astringency in this tea, so feel free to experiment.
Gui Fei Oolong
Leaf-hopper cicadas are allowed to nibble on the leaves of this tea before picking. The resulting tea has a rose and honey profile with a blooming infusion curve.
Notes of spiced honey, roses, and toasted cashew.
Gui Fei Red, also known as Concubine Oolong is one of the sweetest oolongs. It is from a category of tea we refer to as leaf-bitten oolong, and it has a dynamic profile that pairs a mild charcoal roast to fully maintained bouquet of honeyed flowers.
Leaf-bitten teas deserve to be in a category of their own. There are several stories about how Gui Fei’s preparation method came to pass, and it appears that the most reliable story is that in 1999 there was an earthquake in central Taiwan and the tea farmers of Fenghuang village were forced to evacuate. Upon returning the farmers noticed that the tea plants had been overrun with cicadas that had nibbled on the leaves and stems. They processed the least damaged leaves and found that an almost magical transformation had occurred. Tea tasted completely different with an intense sweetness.
Shortly after the cicadas had bitten the leaves the plant created more sugars to heal itself. In addition, the leaves began to oxidize while still living on the bush, as opposed to the post-harvest human-assisted oxidation that commonly happens by tossing and rolling the leaves.
To this day same Fenghuang farmers near the Phoenix Mountain range in Taiwan encourage the little “leaf-hoppers” as they call them to nibble on the leaves to create this Gui Fei. There is now a beautiful, mutually beneficial 4-way symbiotic relationship between the cicada, the tea plant, the farmer, and the tea drinker.
Gui Fei has a tendency to be tricky to brew. It’s best to get to know this tea with shorter infusions. We use 200 degree water with 30 second infusions. The first infusion before the leaves open fully will be a delicate preview of the fireworks to come. Latter infusions have a profile that is a lot like a robust Oriental Beauty with extra sweetness. As the mouth-feel fades after the 4th infusion, the nose continues to bloom like a lively rose garden.
This tea is fruity sweet and citrusy too with touch of roasted nuts. Complex, changing with every steep. so delicious and refreshing during heat wave we experiencing now.
Dry leaf smelled so good of roasted nuts.
5g 100ml glazed pot 200F no rinse/30/15/10/15/20 sec etc
Medium Roast Dong Ding
Taiwanese tea makers are known for their masterful roasting, and this well-articulated Dong Ding oolong is a testament to expertise. The body is like an open flower in the steady sun.
Notes of open flowers, caramel, spiced plum, and clove.
Medium Roast Dong Ding is a balancing act of whimsy and depth. This oolong is built on a Taiwanese floral high mountain oolong with a mesmerizing 50% roast that bakes a light caramel into the tea. I consider this tea to have the essence of artful preparation paired with ideal growing conditions.
High mountain oolongs grow with smaller leaves because of the increased altitude. Because of this the floral notes in the leaf become more concentrated and sought after. Non-roasted high mountain teas have a beautiful elegance that is some delightfully ephemeral, with a taste sweetly evaporates. But when those same high mountain oolongs are roasted a new depth appears that is very dynamic.
I enjoy when a tea has multiple lines of direction. For instance, this Medium Roast Dong Ding has floral notes with an upward moving sensation or energy, and it also has grounding notes from the roast with a downward moving energy. This dual movement is quite lovely to experience.
Dong Ding is one of the great tea mountains in central Taiwan, and this tea comes from the Lugu township in Nantou county, home of Dong Ding mountain. This oolong uses the famous Qing Xin cultivar, brought from China during the Qing dynasty. Qing Xin, also known as Gentle Green Heart is very delicate and only suitable for high mountain growth, but it’s hard-earned flavor profile has notes of plum, cloves, and honeysuckle.
Brew this oolong with 200 degree water using 30 second infusions. The first infusion will be a light preview of the floral notes, while later infusions will quickly bring out the depth of the roast.
Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong
Lovely wide twisted leaves open into a sunny and grassy day with this laid back, light, and playful tea.
Notes of spring flowers, butter, and sunny grass.
This is a tea that we first discovered on a day trip to Ping Lin, a suburb of Taipei which is known for its growth and production of this particular Oolong tea. Bao Zhong tea has a different appearance from many of the other Taiwanese Oolong teas in that its processing utilizes a twisting of the tea leaf instead of a tight semi-ball rolled style of tea production. This tea processing is similar to that of the Wuyi Oolong production of Fujian Province in China.
This tea was named due to creators use of sealing the tea between two sheets of paper to resemble an envelope. Bao Zhong roughly translates to mean “wrapped kind tea.” This Taiwanese Bao Zhong comes from the Wen Shan region of Northern Taiwan which has been the traditional home of Bao Zhong production in Taiwan.
This tea has a light brewing color and a very aromatic fresh floral notes with a sweet finish. It is a great introduction to lighter oolongs in that it will not get bitter if steeped too long. It is light and uplifting tea and reminds us of the fresh spring lightness of a warm cup of fragrant oolong tea.
This tea provides a perfect niche for the tea connoisseur looking for a lighter tea without any of the sharp notes of a green tea. Brew the first infusion with 200 degree water for 60 seconds, doubling the brew time with each subsequent infusion.
The aroma off the cup is so good. It is flowers and a subtle spiciness. The liquor is a bright yellow. Everything about this cup is making me happy... and then I tasted it.
Oh My! This is soooo good. Maybe it is extra special because my day until now has been one battle after another (computers, software, and cameras). Maybe, but I don't think so. This really is that good. You have that wonderful scent along with a smooth buttery corn flavored sip. I can feel it melting the stress away.
For an instant I get a flash of spice at the back of the tongue that I thought was going to turn into briskness but it doesn't. Incredibly smooth.
This is the lighter greener side of oolong. The dark roasting I kind of expected is totally absent. It is nicely complex but subtle. If you only like the grab your throat bold roasty stuff, then this isn't your tea. If like me, you prefer a soothing light green oolong that should steep 4 times, then this is delightful.
I spent most of the weekend outside working, and this tea called to my gaiwan and I to be brewed. I opened up the package to reveal a chaotic assortment of darkened leaves with thick stems. the leaves were incredibly aromatic with a sweet scent of crisp pears, oats, honey, barley, and a smooth graham cracker. This was a unique and enticing aroma. I warmed up my gaiwan and placed a handful inside. The scent deepened to a warm grass base with sweet raisins and light mineral aroma mixture. I sat and enjoyed this array of scents for some time. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing.. The flavor began with a full body. I tasted a nice vegetle base with a smooth spring grass sharpness. A sweet sensation flowed over my palette and progressed into an almost creme tone. This lulling sensation was followed by a light fruitiness and some buttery tones. This brew was quite good, and it was a fully encompassing experience. The brew lightened up in later steeping and moved into the grassier and sharper tones. This tea is quite good, and it would do well for a daily drinker.
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