Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Jinxuan Oolong from Zhu Shan with new teaware

   This past week I have been eagerly awaiting the delivery of some new tea and teaware from Stéphane of Tea Masters. The parcel arrived on Wednesday, and I couldn't wait to give one of the many wonderful teas a try. I had ordered quite a few teas and decided to open the winter Jinxuan Oolong from Zhu Shan first, and try out the new gaiwan and singing cups as well.

   My first impression was the intense fresh aromatic scent that emerged from the bag as I broke the seal. Up until this point I have only been able to enjoy theteas available locally to me, and none of them have been anywhere near as fresh and/or aromatic. This tea gives off a distinct aromatic vegital smell, but very pleasant. 

   The first brew was done for no more than 45 seconds, with the resulting brew being very aromatic, I hesitate to say floral, but definitely an intense fresh, crisp scent. The finish on the first brew was very light with hints of grassy vegital tones, and a slight sweet finish on the back end.

   Brews 2-4 carried on with the attributes of the first brew, but by the 4th brew I could start to taste more fruit as the aromatics faded.

   I decided to push the strength of the brew a little harder for the 5-7th infusion. This is where the subtle fruit started to shine. There was also more rounded "less harsh" vegital tones, almost like they had been cooked and caramelized, appearing and lingering on the palette. This cooked vegital tone may have been the result of the astringency calming down after several brews. Also a buttery finish started to emerge.

   I carried on brewing for a total of 10 infusions. By this point there was almost no aromatics left, and the front end of the flavour profile was almost non-existent. The exciting thing to me was the great long finish that was left. Smooth fruit (I want to say apricot), and a sweet buttery taste was left lingering in your mouth for a very long time.

   As you can see in the picture to the left I used a bit too much tea for this tiny gaiwan. I think this may have contributed to the number of infusions I was able to make, but I will have to experiment more with this new tea and teaware to find out. Even after I was finished the tea leaves appeared to still have more in them.

  Spending the time to explore this tea has been sheer joy and I would like to thank Stéphane Erler from Tea Masters. I know Stéphane recommends this tea for Gongfu cha experimentation because of it's relative low cost, but  I am blown away with how nice this tea is. If this is the worst tea i'm going to try of his I know I'm in for a treat.