Sometimes a teahead will, for reasons they can never fully understand, get a craving for some leaves or other, and be left with an itch that they are going to have to scratch, whatever the cost, literally or figuratively.
When I sat down to cobble together my February order from House of Tea, the memory of the very nice Feng Huang Milan Dancong I received as a free sample in the previous month’s cargo began nagging at me. The more I browsed, the louder that nagging became, until finally I was left with an uncontrollable urge to splash out on some Oolong.
I decided to split my resources and go for two teas – one pretty, one unusual. This, as you might have guessed looking at those beautiful leaves, is the pretty one.
As you have no doubt already deduced from the name, this tea hails from the muy famoso Wu Yi Shan area of Fujian province. It was only when I did a Babelcarp lookup on the specifics of this particular cultivar (Bai Rui Xiang) that I found out that according to the Carp there are in fact two cultivars with this name – see here for details. The White Winter Daphne (白瑞香) cultivar seems to be much more common, so until I find out otherwise I’ll assume these leaves are of that type.
The leaves were grown at an altitude of 800 metres, and were hand plucked, before being roasted in a traditional manner to a level described as “medium“.
The dry leaves had a subtle aroma of digestive biscuits and raisins.
|Water Used:||Willy’s Premier|
|Weight of dry leaf:||6 grams|
|Infusion style:||Asian / Gong-fu|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a 1st. infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 30 seconds, then @ 40, 50, and finally 90 seconds for a total of 9 infusions|
This tea produced a pleasantly strange liquor. Right out of the gate, you had a luscious colour, a wonderfully creamy body that stuck to the lips like melted ice-cream, an aroma that was all hothouse flowers heady sweetness mixed with straight-from-the-oven cookies, but a taste that was more of a suggestion than a sensation.
That signature Wu Yi mineral and burnt brown sugar sweetness lingered on the inside of the empty cup.
The first round had a further surprise in store – a very noticeable Qi bump. It’s not terribly often that I get such a reaction from a non-sheng tea!
As the session went on I got the impression that this tea was all about aroma and aftertaste. The liquor showered your nose with a heady, pungent-sweet fragrance that spoke of some astonishingly beautiful bloom found beside a rainforest pool, and that long, long aftertaste was all peanut butter, dark syrup, and a hint of roasted-in smokiness.
The leaves managed a good six rounds before I felt the infusion times needed bumping up a notch, but by the ninth steeping it was game over.
A nice tea, this, and for the sake of completeness another tick in the Wu Yi Yan Cha Spotter’s Handbook.