TeaChat OTTI #15:  Taiwanese Oolongs from Mountain Tea


To get a good initial sense of these teas, all oolongs from Mountaintea.com (tasting set up by TeaChat), I set up a single tandem tasting of them all.  See the photos for the setup:  2 grams of each tea in matching small porcelain gaiwans, water measured at 60mL per infusion for the first three (done in tandem).  After that, I left the tasting set up all day, and drank a little more of each as the mood struck, right on through the evening.  Photos of the leaves & infusions in a Flickr set here (includes closeup views of dry leaves of each tea). 

Imperial Pearl Spring Li Shan Jade Oolong Special Reserve Medium Roast Dong Ding Medium Roast Tie Guan Yin Oriental Beauty Cake
Appearance Tiny balls of leaves, very dark Large, light green rolled leaves Large, slightly deeper green rolled leaves Medium balls of very dark leaves Medium balls of deep brown leaves Chunk of compressed dark and very light leaves
Dry Leaf Scent Plummy fruity magnificent Sweet, grassy, floral Grassy Roasted grain Light toast, really not much scent Plummy, fruity, not as strongly scented as the Imperial Pearl
First infusion, 185 degrees, 30 seconds Plummy fruity sweet thin:  wants a longer infusion time Delicate sweet floral oh my Light floral but more hints of summer hay than the Li Shan Roasty toasty, still a little tart & fruity Toasted, deep, earthy Mmm….so interesting.  A little of what I think of as that jassid-bitten flavor is there, but with a much more oxidized/fruitier background
(note:  I've only had one tea clearly identified as a 'jassid-bitten' tea, so take it with a grain of salt!)
195 degrees, 45 seconds Richer, plummy, fruity, sweet, just the slightest hints of bitter/astringent deeper flavors, but not in the least unpleasant to this bitter-phobe Loving the floral delicacy of this one, richer in the 2nd infusion Similar, a little richer than the first infusion, summer pasture with a few flowers Very deep roasted charcoal dominates this one; I suspect it would mellow wonderfully if used for a thermos full Toasted, but now a little of the sweet fruity spicy backdrop is coming through--a mellower dark roast than the Dong Ding This is just marvelous:  all the sweet richness of flavor promised by the scent of a black tea, minus any hint of bitterness, plus a bonus floral quality that takes the place of the more fruity/tart flavor of the Imperial Pearl
Liquor Amber, plummy scent Delicate yellow-green, floral perfume Delicate yellow-green, summer hay aroma Toasty roasty scent and pale amber liquor Toasty roasty scent and pale amber liquor Fruity sweet aroma from reddish amber liquor
205 degrees, 1 minute The threatened bitterness started to peep out, but the tea was still drinkable, sweet, plummy, but not really any longer to my taste; stopping here with this one* Delicate and sweet and mellow and delicious, still gives impression of wildflowers, floral/perfumey, with warm deep undertones A little stronger touch of something a bit spicy appeared at the base of the sweet grassy infusion this time Still an overwhelming impression of charcoal roast--but not unpleasant Roasty but consistent:  a little more earthy/fruity/spice undertones than in the Dong Ding This infusion is the first one that is starting to taste like a black tea, losing a bit of the special quality that was so apparent in the first two infusions--but still, a very pleasant black tea, like a yunnan gold, not like a c-t-c assam.
Appearance of wet leaves Small tightly curled dark brown Large open green leaves, groups of a couple of large leaves plus stem, leaves a bit broken or chewed at the edges Leaves still a little curled, rich green Surprisingly green leaves, still tightly curled Quite green leaves, more open than the Dong Ding Broken brown leaves
End of tandem tasting
3rd x 200 degrees, 90 seconds:  very delicate still, a bit of cooked spring peas coming in to backup the floral delicacy 205 degrees, between 1 and 2 minutes:  grassy, sweet, a bit of astringency but still very pleasant 1-2 minutes, 205 degrees:   still more charcoal dominant than is really desirable to me, but again, not unpleasant Tart but still toasty, a bit astringent, going through a bit of an eclipse before what I suspect will be a few more rewarding infusions A careless 2 minutes or so, and this one has gone from delight to a more c-t-c like than is pleasant.  Obviously it needs a more delicate touch for my delicate palate.
4th x 205 degrees, 3 minutes:  still a wonderful floral delicate sweet tea 205 degrees, 3 minutes:  excellent depth, no signficant astringency behind the vegetal pleasantness Actually a little nicer with several minutes at 205 degrees again--the roasted flavor is less dominant, nicer fruity notes coming out more Nicer with this longer infusion as I expected--3 min, 205 degrees.   Still fruity/tart/earthy. Much shorter, 30 seconds again and 205 degrees, and the lovely fruity mellowness is back.  This definitely responds to quite different timing compared to the greener or deeper roasted but less oxidized oolongs.
5th x 205 degrees, several minutes, sweet and tasty, floral, delicate, very nice 205 degrees, 3 minutes, not yet sweet water--still pleasantly haylike, a little floral, and sweet. As expected, this one is into a much nicer phase now that the charcoal has faded:  it might simply improve by aging a bit too, for that roastiness to fade by time rather than by multiple prior infusions.  Now getting fruity deliciousness and sweet, but not quite sweetwater. This one is sweetwater, I think it's done.  Pleasant sweetwater, but not quite as nice at this remove as the Dong Ding.  Interesting that they went back and forth:  the early infusions of the TGY were friendlier, but the later Dong Ding is just becoming VERY nice. Fruity and delicious with 1 minute at 205 degrees, but still a little of the black-tea flavor sneaking back at the aftertaste, especially
6th x Sweet, sweetwater, delicious Honey.  Just honey. Again, plummy fruity sweet and delicious This one is done:  thinning taste even with a 5 minute infusion, a little sweet, a lot of roast Essentially the same, another couple of 30 second infusions
7th x Forgot I had water in this one, so duration of infusion might have been 10 minutes…..and its still light, floral, sweet, amazing, LOVE this; going to give it one more…and finally, the 15 minutes last infusion hit sweetwater, nothing more to give….will retire it after 8 lovely infusions Still honey, another 5 min infusion. 5 minutes, hit sweetwater Nothing left but faint roastedness at 5 minutes now This one probably has more 30-60 second infusions in it, but I'm done for the night; I'll leave the leaves for the morning, but without added water--I think it might get bitter with an overnight, even if I start with cold water, and I want the plummy fruity wonderfulness, not the bitter strength behind it...but a cat-astrophe ended this plan early in the morning....
Rating 4 5 4.5 4 4 4.5

(note tail and paw of departing cat, who walked calmly through the tasting without getting paws or tail wet or knocking over any cups--a hazard of the 'open' tasting setup!)

wet leaves

*I came back to the Imperial Pearl later, and it was quite lovely.  It just did not fit the same brewing parameters that fitted the other teas from this tasting:  there is a quality of a very ripe, almost fermented fruit, that is very pleasant to me with shorter and more dilute infusions but dominated unpleasantly with longer/more concentrated infusions.  When brewed more dilute, this has also been an excellent tea for bulk brewing, holding a pleasant flavor and thick mouthfeel through a long day in the thermos.

Return to Tea Tastings

Return to Diane's Tea Page

Return to Diane's Food Page

Return to Diane's Home Page