woensdag 26 december 2012

Teamaster's Winter Alishan 2012

It's first day after christmas and suddenly the rain stopped and some beams of sunshine appeared. I can barely remember the last day it didn't rain - well I guess that's the fate of being a Belgian.
I wanted to review this tea earlier but because of the rain, I didn't feel brewing such a delicate oolong.

The leaves are tightly rolled and look dark green/blue. Their smell is refined, strong and reminds me a bit of these little bags filled with lavender. The scents turns more into a sweet, honey-like flower scent once put in my warm gaiwan, very promising so far!

The first brew smells like sugarcane mixed with some white flowers. When taking a sip it feels like the tea immediately vaporises in your mouth, coating everything and releasing it aromas for the next couple of minutes. Drinking this tea is almost the same as taking a breath mint, everything feels so pure and clean. I always like to let one of the cups filled with tea cool down because the flavours tend to change drastically. The brew feels thicker,sweeter and creamy! It feels like it's a total different tea though the flowery aspect is still there with a bit of apricot bitter. The second brew turns out to be much more intense in the flower/perfume part of the palate and a little bit less creamy. Later brews become more balanced with a vanilla-like smell - it doesn't smell like vanilla but it has this same kind of thick, sweet smell that's so unique to vanilla. I've been able to get 6 brews out of this one which is outstanding! Maybe I could get out even 1 or 2 more if I let it steep for 1-2 hours.

The leaves are one of the biggest and thickest I've seen so far. Because this is the 'fruity' version of Teamaster's Alishan, the edges are slightly more oxidized which I prefer because less oxidized teas tend to be over pungent. This tea was such a light in the dark after drinking so much hung shui and red teas, it felt like a little angel on my tongue. For me this tea is what I expect from Teamaster's gao shan selection: refined, pure, elegant and perfumy. Outstanding! Wished I bought some more of this one.

Beams of sunshine sometimes come through
PS: The rain has started yet again...






zaterdag 22 december 2012

Wild Lin Qui

Today my mom allowed me to open up my christmas packages already because tomorrow she and my dad will leave for their holiday in Sweden. I was planning on brewing a red tea but doubting which setting I should use. It made me very happy when I opened the packages because in there were some nice fabrics!

The that I brewed today was given to me by Mei Lan a couple of weeks ago. It is named 'Wild LinQui' and is completely handmade. She told me that in the beginning she wasn't that psyched about it but now that it had the time to age for a couple of years it got a lot better.






The shape of the leafs are irregular and so is the colour. Most of them are not fully black, containing lots of red and green parts. It has to be the 'most less oxidized' black tea I've seen so far. In it's dry form it secretes a perfumy smell that reminds me of SML #21. Later when put in the warm gaiwan, it gives a more animal-like smell.(and I mean this in a positive way. Muscus I consider as animal smell). The first brew of this tea was very light, much lighter than expected with no sight of a red colour at all.
The taste of this tea reminded me of young sheng puer. It had the same kind of bitterness, not that much bitterness in the way of contraction in the mouth but more as a none-active, tasty bitterness. Here and there some sweet, a bit vanilla flavours were spotted but they stayed well hidden on the background. I felt that the tea was muted a bit and stayed muted during the session, maybe because of it's age I should have heaten it up for a longer period of time? In the 2nd and 3rd brew, the tastes are developping some more but refuse to stand out.

I wonder if these more primitive tastes are a characteristic of wild tea. There are no signs of big perfumy, fruity flavours that stand out like in garden grown teas, they often taste extremel flowery or fruity. This tea is subtle and carries earthy flavours.
Not sure what I have to think about this tea, I find it's flavour profile promising but lacking some pungency. I'll save the last bits of this sample to brew another time, hopefully it will open next time because it feels I found a beautiful flower but it refuses to open it buds!

zaterdag 15 december 2012

Phoenix Oolong Mi Lan Xiang

This Phoenix Mi Lan Xiang is grown and harvested from 100 year old trees located in the Guangdong province of China on the Phoenix mountain according to Hojo's websites. This tea is his stepping in tea for exploring his wide range of Phoenix dan cong. The leafs look dark with here and there some yellow/greenish spots. The dry smell isn't that distinctive or particular, it smells fine and flowery.





I decided to brew this tea in my small, handthrown Chao Zhou pot that I recently bought. While my experiencing brewing tea with a pot is limited - 90% of the times I use my gaiwan- I still decided to risk the higher chance of ruining the brew because of the sentimental idea of matching the tea with his growing place.
It's also the first time I properly used the handmade teacup I received from George in Taiwan, while it's actually purpose is for drinking matcha - that's my guessing atleast- I thought it would fit well with todays setting. When I added the tea in the burning-hot teapot a herb like aroma filled the air with some chocolately sweetness -never smelled that chocolate again though. Later on I could smell some lychee and sandalwood notes. The smell was complex and kind of absurd, never smelled something like this before. It kind of reminded me of a Scandinavian pine forest with some heath on the side.


The first sip was quite the adventure, would even dare to say this tea was grown in Scandinavia instead of China! The taste is like fresh dill which is used a lot in Scandinavian/Baltic cuisine, could be perfectly matched with some smoked salmon except that I don't like salmon. Also the longan fruit is represent with it's dry, perfumy taste and slight astringency which makes your mouth feel a bit dry after swallowing. At first the flavours were a bit overwhelming which might be due the fact that I rarely brew strong gong fu cha. What surprised me the most about this tea is how persistent it is. I could just keep brewing it forever what I'm still doing right now! The more I brew it the sweeter it becomes.
While it's taste is a bit too 'wild' for me, my tastebuds were shocked and awed by flavor bombardments(though a tad too 1-dimensional) it was still a good experience. For now I think I will stick with my refined, elegant Taiwanese oolongs but maybe when I've become a real man I'll give it another shot!


Tea and Literature

Fine literature needs a fine tea.
This novel from  Kawabata is as
delicate as a baozhong tea.
While I'm not a Japanese tea drinker
I used Japanese cotton and waste bowl by an ex-Japanese monk.
The yellow fabric and white flowers go well with
minimalistic style of writing and eye for detail while
still staying sober.



zaterdag 8 december 2012

Baozhong Lily Flower-the snow edition

Yesterday I came home from my dorm and felt like a little child opening Teamaster's package. When trying his Baozhong I felt like being on a mountain peak covered with snow. On his blog I wrote that this tea was 'crisp and delicate like a snowflake' and that I would love to drink this in the snow. I think the Gods heard my prayer because when I woke up today I saw the sun low at the horizon, the grass covered with icy snow and fog. Happy as a child I ran outside and started my tea session.

This was the first time that I bought a Baozhong so it was a whole new experience with new tastes and textures to discover. The leafs look rather small and fragil with rather high amounts of chlorophyll. On Teamaster's blog it is mentioned that the leafs were harvested on 22 october by hand in Wenshan and because of dry and cold weather condition the yield was low but of a good quality. The smell is a bit grassy and reminds me of dried flowers - which ones I cannot say, flowers are not my expertise.

The brew looks clear and bright. Because of the dry and pure air, the aroma spreads itself even more intense than usual and blends in perfectly with the athmosphere. The first sip is sweet, elegant and flowery. It's almost like you are drinking mountain air. When you breath out the flowery aroma cools your mouth and gradually becomes one with the outside air. It's such a lovely feeling drinking this tea in the crispy, cold air. It's not about taste or complexity anymore but about the experience and texture.


In most blogs (and in most other things in life) I'm a very analytical person but this time I didn't want to describe the flavors and analyze them to the bone. In this blog I want to let the tea speak for itself - or atleas the pictures. It might be not the most complex or sophisticated tea but it sure gave me the most intense tea experience so far. The only thing that kept me away from an almost meditative state was going back inside to boil the water. In the future I might have to invest in a stove because tea outside feels much more real to me and the tea.

young leafs and buds give delicate aromas
Hope you enjoyed this blog and you'll enjoy reading many more.

zondag 2 december 2012

Sun Moon Lake #21



A couple of weeks ago I already reviewed another red SML made by mr.Wang and while that one was quite good, this one just surpasses every red tea I had so far. Number 21 is a very recent cultivar developped in 2008. If I'm correct it's a cross between a Keemin and an Indian Kyang- the result is a complex tea with an unique character. It was challenging describing all the flavors that came out of this tea and how they gradually changed over time.
The dry leaves looked big and beared a dry, refined flowery scent. Once they were put in a warm gaiwan the aromas changed into something so complex that I wasn't able to describe it accurate, the most I can say is an intense mixture of sweet flowers with ripe plums - the taste of this tea was surprisingly different.
The smell of the brew reminded me of wet heylands, red cabbage with apples and honey covered corn while the taste had this concentrated, refined woody bitterness - probably from the Indian cultivar- which delighted my taste papils. There were lots of vegetables in the taste (asparagus, chicory), woody tones and now and then some orange notes dared to show up though quickly beaten down the other, more presenescent flavours. When this tea cooled down a little, more sweet and malty flavours appeared on the stage but still accompagnied by a slight bitterness so it wouldn't turn into bland sweetness. The tea is also very forgiving, it doesn't mind at all if you steep it a bit too long and will do anything to please your tastebuds! In later, longer infusions the tea becomes almost like a young sheng puer, it has the same distinctive taste as well it gains a more fruity and citrus character.
The leafs are big and strong, mostly seperate leafs but here and there also some buds. Yesterday I found a leaf atleast twice as big as the ones showed above. Most of them still have a bit of green in the middle, as a good steak baked saignant or à point.

This tea certainly receives a place in my top 3 so far. It's something special that I will cherish for special occasions. Perhaps these guys underneath are singing about tea?



zaterdag 24 november 2012

Wild Red Tea from Alishan

At first my apologies for not writing for such a long time, it's not that I haven't had time for tea but just no time/energy for writing reviews. The first time I tried this tea at Mei Lan's place I was astonished by it thick and sweet liquor. Today I decided to review this tea and even though I wasn't able to achieve the same level of sweetness- perhaps because my water isn't boiled in a tetsubin- I still enjoyed this tea thoroughly. One of the main reasons why I like these red teas so much is because of the looks. These twirled black leafs have this mysterious attraction on me for some reason and the last thing you would expect is that these burned looking leafs produce such sweet and lovely brews. The only problem I've found with these teas is that they are so sensitive to teaware, water and quantity. If you use a bit too much they might turn a bit bitter and if you use too less they fade quickly.

The dry smell is more floral than one could expect and it feels dry. This profile will change completely once this tea is heated up. My face was smacked with big dark flavors - this would be the stout of the teas with no doubt! There were raisins, malts and brown sugar. The first thing I said after sipping this tea was: dark sugar!
This time the flavors were less big than I remembered but still pleasant. I didn't get the same body thickness as at Mei Lan's place but received some more fruity flavors instead with just a bit of bitterness. The 4th steep was a long one and it turned out a bit more agressive and floral with now and then a hint of green grapes.





The leafs are of average size but they are tough and thick which is I assume one of the typical descriptions of a wild tea plant.
While my passion for these kind of teas is big, I still tend to struggle with the brewing proces. I'm not able to get consistent brews and lack the knowledge of steeping them in specific direction as I'm more capable of with rolled Taiwanese oolongs.
I still have a few red teas left to be reviewed so next posts will probably talk about these and make a nice comparison between different Taiwanese reds!
EDIT: Today (23/02/'13) I tried this tea again in my Mumyoi teapot and it turned out terrific! It was sweet and thick as in my memories at Mei Lan's place.

Wish you all a good weekend and see you next time. Underneath you can find a song of a Belgian band perfectly suited to drink with a cup of red tea.




zondag 11 november 2012

Remembrance Day

In memory of all the people who have died in the line of duty(lots of them not even my age) to protect their family and country no matter what their beliefs were or on which side they fought. They did what they had to do and we should respect all of those who gave their lifes so we could enjoy a better future. To honour these people I left one cup empty with a fallen flower, this to resemble the many friends/children/parents that were lost during this time.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.




zaterdag 10 november 2012

Hojo's Anxi Rou Gui

First of all my apologies for this long delayed post. Last week I was on a trip to Berlin to meet up with some friends and after my trip I had to go straight to my college dorm again. After an 11 hour nap (really needed it) I woke up with a typical grey,cloudy autumn morning. Still a bit sleep drunk I slowly walked towards my tea closet and started searching what I was going to drink today. My eye fell on a sample I received from Hojo, a Anxi Rou Gui. Sounded very tasty and it looked quite roasted, exactly what I needed. My mom made me some nice table cloths so I did my best to make a nice cha xi - she brought 2 different plants for me as well.






When I was in Berlin, we went to visit a big flea market and while we were strolling around I saw this stand filled with handmade pottery. Well, my friends lost me there! I spend quite a while observing every pot and in the end I couldn't resist buying one. Don't you think it's pretty? It's a great addition to my cha xi, it is able to give it a total new dimension. For people who are interested, his website is: www.dirkaleksic.de

Now back to the tea! I barely had any experience with Chinese oolong so I was quite clueless how to prepare this one. About 2 weeks ago I tried an Anxi TGY and I made the mistake of not using enough leafs. I'm used to Taiwanese oolong which has an high expansion rate unlike these Chinese oolongs who seem to be more single leafs - not saying this is for every Chinese oolong, just my experience so far. Again I made the same mistake today by not using enough leafs which resulted in a tasty but short tea session and a remaining of the sample barely enough to brew 2 steeps. This time I will learn from my stupidity!

The dry smell of this tea reminded me of sushi, mainly of the nori. I like nori but to smell it in a tea was quite strange for me because I had some experience with roasted teas that actually tasted like seaweed, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea. So I kept my fingers crossed while I gently slided the tea into my gaiwan. The seaweed smell disappeared completely and more spicy/woody tones appeared, lucky me! After the first brew I noticed how deeply roasted these leafs were.....should have used my new teapot! The colour of the 1st brew was transparant and beautiful like autumn. I like to describe autumn as the 'beautiful death of Spring'. As a human being death is something we do not appreciate at all but in nature death can have something soothing, almost comforting as it brings life to other things.

The first sips weren't special nor interesting. It lacked some body, had some roasted flavors which was about it. Luckely the story doesn't stop here. When this tea cooled down a little bit a new layer of tastes came out of nowhere. This time the brew had lots of caramel, sweet wood and maybe even some cinnamon - as the name suggests. Sometimes a flowery note dared to reveal itself but quickly ran away from all the brutal spicy notes. After 2 brews in my gaiwan I decided to transfer the leafs into my new Chao Zhou teapot. The tea lost a bit of its pungency and became much rounder. In the gaiwan the roast tended to be a bit aggresive towards the upper part of the mouth while now it was a lot smoother. Besides making the tea smoother it also give it a bit more elegance by providing more flowery notes.



It was quite the bummer when the tea session ended after barely 4 steeps. I think this tea had much to offer but because of my ignorance its potential was ruined. It was a nice cup of tea and while I'm fond of slightly roasted teas, the deeply roasted one are not capable of convincing me. Perhaps with some extra years they will get more complex? For now I will just stick to my Taiwanese oolongs. Ofcourse, when the chance presents itself I will not refuse a cup of Chinese oolong!

EDIT: I just did an extra very long steep till the water was cold. This resulted in a sweet, creamy and mocca like brew. Next time I must make sure to use enough leafs!
EDIT2: Because I was so disappointed in myself because I ruined this tea I did another brew but with much longer steeps. This time there are more woody/ctirus notes and cooled down it's just delightful, almost like a good cigar: sweet,woody,creamy and some cacao.

I hope you readers don't mind an extra picture!

woensdag 31 oktober 2012

High Mountain Formosa MF from Hojo

Icy cold, crispy blue sky and lots of sunshine... my favourite kind of weather so I put some more effort in my cha xi than usual (still not that much because of limited items). The tea I'm going to review is a sample I received with my order at Hojo and is called 'High Mountain Formosa MF'. Now on his website I read the article about his High Mountain Formosa which seems to come from Alishan and is bitten by the tea jassid. Only the leafs that were bitten are harvested to give it a special, sweet aroma. Now this tea has 'MF' behind it and I'm still doubting if it means Medium Fired or Medium Fermented. I personally think the tea received a light roast to gain some extra sweetness but it's also deeply oxidized as you will see further in this review. (EDIT: it means Medium Fermented)







This tea looks particulary dark, kind of deep oceaan blue with seaweed. It might not be noticeable on the picture but when you put this one next to a normal, lightl oxidized high mountain oolong it appears to be almost black. Because I opened the vacuüm sealed package a few hours before drinking and kept the tea in a glazed jar the aromas had the chance to develop. It smelled pure and refreshing with some honey like sweetness. I wasn't able to detect a roast at all, perhaps the what I like to call 'Honey pops' smell came from some very light roasting. At the first brew I was surprised to see such an intense orange colour, I didn't expect such a deep oxidized tea! It almost looked and smelled like a fully oxidized oolong, almost like an OB. The first sip was so smooth, honey like sweet and fruity that a smile appeared on my face. It seems the more tea I'm drinking, the better they get. I don't know if it's due the fact that I'm buying better teas, my brewing skills improved or I'm just able to detect more nuances because of an increased tasting palate.
The first few brews (3-4) were full of ripe fruits like pineapple and peach, it's been quite a while since I had such a fruity too. The body is medium and not overly sweet though sweet enough to not make it flat. Once swallowed there are some slight floral notes but they disappear rather quiick. Now and then some unexpected vanilla notes pop-up. Through these first few infusions and even more in the later ones there is this 'mystery flavor'. On his website it's described as a Brandy bitterness. For me it's this plastical feeling in my mouth, don't know how else to describe it. It's this kind of sticky, coating feeling like the smell in a new bought car. It might sound strange, unpleasant or off-putting but there is no other way for me to describe this flavour. I just love this feeling/flavour in my mouth, you can also find it in full bodied, strong red wines or rather sweet, bottle oxidized white wines. Some people might have an idea where I'm talking about but I think 99% don't, too bad I cannot take a picture of a taste. Later on this tea loses its so o' delicious fruitiness but gains a more almond like flavor which makes it similar to a light sherry. This is maybe something you could compare that plastical,nutty flavour to: light sherry, hope this helps to get an idea about the flavour profile of this tea.

The leafs are a mixture of young buds and some larger, rougher ones. Most of them are oxidized for atleast 50% and more which almost makes it taste like a red tea but sweeter and with additional complexity. It's a perfect mixtures between the complexity of high mountain oolongs and the smooth,rich flavour of red teas. It might not be for everyone because of it's unusual taste but it's certainly worth a try. Enough of writing now... I'm going to enjoy the nice weather with some more of this tea. Aaah, perfect day...





zondag 28 oktober 2012

Deep fermented Dong Ding from HOJO

Last friday when I came home, my mother told me there was a package from Japan on the kitchen table. Quickly I ran towards the kitchen and I ripped open the package with great eager. I felt like a little child getting his toys for Saint Nicolas. In the package there were 2 teas - a deep fired Da Yu Ling and a deep fermented Dong Ding. That night I went for the Dong Ding and I was just astonished by its unique flavor profile so today I'm going to review this tea and it pleased me yet again. When it was dry it smelled sweet and fruity. Once preheated some lovely honey pops aroma's came out of my gaiwan - dear God I love this smell! In the beginning this tea is so full bodied because of the deep fermentation (but no roasting!!!) and full of dark fruity flavours. Think about raisins, figs and plums with a dark sugary sweetness. Surprisingly after this full-bodied, sweet fruity notes there is this amazing fruity/flowery aftertaste that just won't disappear.
After about 4 brews the tea becomes less sweet and full bodied. In the mouth it's not as pleasant as before though much more complex with an almost overwhelming aftertaste. It's like you are drinking flower parfum, I thought some other teas I've tried before were perfumy but this is just over-the-top perfume. There is so much flower in the aftertaste it's almost unbearable, it's on this very steep edge between perfect/overwhelming. Very delicate and brewed a little bit too long it's almost undrinkable but if done so correctly it gives a heavenly brew that refuses to keep lingering on in your throat. For my mother -she is my test subject- it was too overwhelming and too complex to enjoy. In even later brews the taste becomes a little bit more sweeter again - almost like white chocolate- with some nuttiness. This tea would be a perfect match with a Yamazaki 12 year old whisky on an Autumn evening, need to put it to the task. Perhaps I should invite some friends and have a tea&whisky night.The characteristics in this brew keep changing but I think the red line in this tea is it deep flavour and lingering aftertaste. I might buy some more of this tea for aging because i'm sure this one will develop into something even more incredible. As my subject of study is biotechnology(soon biology or biophysics) this aging procces is interesting for me - you should have a look at my beer cellar. Talking about beer, please also take a look at my beer blog (link can be found at the top of the page). It's not as active as this blog but I'll do a regular 1-2 week update, thank you very much!

In the bottom of my gaiwan small leafs were mainly found and at the top some bigger and stugger leafs. You can see their deep green colour. The leafs are spear shaped so I guess they are from the qingxing variety (originaly from the Dong Ding area? Correct me if I'm wrong please)
To conclude this tea: With no doubt one of the best - if not the best- oolong I had so far. It has such an unique flavor profile which I really dig. I do like  gao shan oolongs but my preference still goes to deep fermented/roasted oolongs, perhaps it may be due the fact it's getting winter and my body longes for darker and deeper flavours.

zaterdag 20 oktober 2012

Another Bulang 2011

You see any difference?
Another Bulang but now from 2011, that's all I know from this sample! I took out my own cake from EoT to compare both of them. The EoT smell is much more abundant than the other Bulang. The sample smells weak but I do recognize some similarities. I layed down the sample piece on my cake and they almost looked exactly the same. My cake might have slightly more buds and is less compressed but besides that the looks are identical. The only thing that could seperate the two, is the smell. Once put in my preheated gaiwan the only thing I could smell was a bittersweet hay scent. Till then I was kind of disappointed and didn't expect too much.
The first cup was elegant, just slightly bitter with some woody notes..... that was just the first brew. From the second to the aprox.10th brew the tea was medium in body but contained lots of bitterness just like my own Bulang. There was a lot of wood and nuttiness together with some brief moments of sweet mango. After each swallow it felt like a wood fragnance was sprayed in your mouth and refused to go away. As with the preivous Bulang I drank, there is also this erotic/musky/primal scent that sticks in my cup. After 9 steeps I was kind of getting tired of this bitterness because my mouth felt so dry but that's the moment when it happens. It takes about 2 steeps for its full make-over but suddenly the bitterness decreases with atleast 70% and more fruity flavors appear. There is lots of peach and some citrus, where later more lychee flavors start to stick in your mouth. My mom tasted this tea in its bitterphase and she hated it. A bit later I told her to try it again and at her first sip I saw the surprise in her eyes. 'Now this is an insanely sweet and fruity tea, it's so sweet!' she replied.

 This tea is so simular to my own Bulang, maybe because they are so young their bitterness is overwhelming and takes away some complexity that probably will get noticeable in a few years. I should make both teas at the same time one day to really see the difference because memory can be tricky sometimes. I greatly enjoyed this tea - though sometimes the bitterness was overwhelming- because it's so unpredictable and challenging to brew, it requires constant attention. Kind of curious how an old Bulang will taste - guess I'll have to be patient and wait!

vrijdag 19 oktober 2012

Beerblog

My first beer blog is online. It won't be as active as my tea blog but if  you find the time than please give it a chance: http://itsnotjustbeer.blogspot.com
Besides the review you can also read about how my passion of beer has grown over the years and why it is so important for me and Belgium. (click on 'about me & the blog)

Apologies for the poor quality pictures, it's because of the lack of light. Next time I'll try to find a better place to make pictures or find a good excuse to drink during daytime!

Sun Moon Lake Black Tea nr.18 (mr.Wang)

Me at Sun Moon Lake

I promised you all a review of the tea I drank in my last post so here it finaly is. Sunday evening I was hit by a campylobacter infection with a 40°C fever so I was taken to the hospital and stayed there till yesterday. I'm happy to be back in a good condition and to write this review. The tea I'm going to talk about was grown in the Sun Moon Lake area. I've been there once before - too bad my interest in tea still had to be lit that time.
I bought this tea at Mei Lan's and she told me it was grown by Mr. Wang. He works on a fairly small scale and uses a secret proces thaught from generation on generation. When I heard the word 'secret' my curiosity was striken! I like mysteries and secrets, who doesn't? I just love that little bit of romance in things, dreaming about what that mystery factor could be. When I told this to my mom she laughed and responded with: 'Maybe he just pees on it!'. Now hopefully he didn't (and I'm pretty sure!).
The cultivar this tea is made from is 'nr.18'. It is a hybrid between a native Taiwanese tea plant crossed with a Burma big leave cultivar. They also name this nr.18 as Brandy Oolong.

The dry smell of these leafs remind me of dried orange peel with some hints of chocolate on a base of dry aromatic wood. When they were heated up, the orange chocolate became really noticeable. The first brew was quite woody and smelled like a perfume. There were some hints of spices to be found. While making the second brew the scent of honey and parfum filled the air and found their way into my nostrills. Oh, heavenly! Smelling the brew it reminded me of lemoncake and in my mouth some funky (earthy) tastes revealed themselves with citrus notes bouncing around in my mouth. This tea is a little bit like jazz music!


Cooled down I could notice some malt sugar going on and in a later, long steeped brew the flavors suddenly changes into cauliflower! This might sound quite strange but it is rather pleasant actually - perhaps because I'm a big cauliflower lover. For me the only let down was the fairly short aftertaste that I really like in teas. The aftertaste was there but refused to linger for a long time - it seems this tea is fairly sensitive to which water is used because I remember last time when I used another water the tea felt more sweet and had a noticeable after taste. On the otherside, this tea was very well balanced and had lots of complexity.

The tea has a mixture of leaves varying from very tender, young buds to slightly older and rugger ones. All of them are slim and fully oxidized. I don't know when these leaves are harvested but I guess end of spring/beginning of the summer. My conclusion of this tea is that I need more experience with these red teas because I'm still unsure how to brew them correctly and as I don't use a scale it's difficult to estimate the amount I have to put in my gaiwan - with oolong tea I just cover the bottom. I refuse to use thermometers, scales etc... because tea is an escape of all those measurements and is all about feeling.

It's a lovely tea and I would love to drink it again, idealy with some teafriends in the evening with some jazz music! I'm curious to try more teas from Mr.Wang if I have the chance because he also has some different cultivars. My advice to you readers: buy some SML tea, invite some good friends and have a nice evening!

zaterdag 13 oktober 2012

Friday Night


After a busy week with lots of labs and preparation, Friday finaly arrived. Last night - after waiting oh so patiently to try this tea- I decided to brew mr.Wang's black tea from Sun Moon Lake that I bought from Mei Lan. It was a magical tea and I had the most pleasant and relaxing evening. I'm not going to review this tea right now but you can expect a review soon. Here is a preview already: