In poker you have to play the hand you’re dealt with, and the same can also be said of tea sessions.
Due to circumstances beyond your control a session doesn’t always turn out the way you planned it, and this is a textbook example of such a session. Just in case regular readers are already thinking along certain lines, let me state before we go any further that for once our cat wasn’t involved!
About half way through the session I experienced technical difficulties that meant I had to press the session’s pause button until such time as I could put things right. I won’t bore you with the nerdy ins-and-outs (unless, of course, that kind of stuff floats your boat then ask away) – suffice to say it was grief caused by a network drive attached to a single board computer host.
Did this unintended hour long mid-session break affect this review in any way? Was my mind fully on the tea once I’d fixed my broken network? Good question. Short answer – dunno. That’ll have to wait until I have a follow up session with the tea.
In the meantime, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
I hadn’t made a purchase from perennial favourites House of Tea since November of last year, and so thought I might as well mosey on over there and see what was new.
The first tea that caught my eye was the subject of this post. I’d read about the Taiwanese method of pressing Oolongs for ageing purposes and been intrigued by the idea, and so the opportunity to get hold of such a tea was too good to miss. I performed the usual interwebbery magick, and the very next afternoon a package containing the tea was nestling in our mail box.
As you have probably guessed, this Oolong was manufactured in 2009, in Ming Jian township, Nantou county, Taiwan, from raw material of the Si Ji Chun cultivar. Both the oxidization level and roasting are described as light. After processing the leaves were steamed and then pressed into a 100 gram beeng for long term storage/ageing, although in their notes House of Tea say that the tea is excellent drinking as of now.
The texture of the beeng was quite unlike any other pressed tea I’ve encountered before. The best I can describe it is like cookies just after they’ve come out of the oven – not hard or brittle, but soft and pliable, to the extent that they can be easily teased apart with your fingertips alone.
Seeing as both the oxidization level and the roast were described as light, as well as the general Tie Guan Yin like appearance of the leaves, I decided to go with water at 90°C.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||6½ grams|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||8 infusions of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, and 90 seconds duration|
After the first infusion I got the impression that this tea was going to take a wee while to get into its stride, although the early signs were very good. Right off the bat I was getting a milky, lip stickingly sweet and floral liquor.
By the second steeping a clean brown leather thing had joined the party, and the floral note was more defined – a classic pungent, hot house flowers sensation.
By the third round the leaves were fully open, and the liquor became even more complex. New things entered the mix in the next two rounds – the third saw a lovely, refreshing, tart fruitiness appear, which came across like a mix between green apples and lime juice.
The liquor’s sweetness morphed into a burnt brown sugar thing during the fourth round, one which clung to the inside of the cup long after it had been emptied.
Eight rounds seemed fair enough for the leaves – it was one of those sessions where the feeling was that the leaves deserved better than being pushed a little too far, if you see what I mean, a quit while you’re ahead job.
I think I’ll have one more session with this tea before putting it back into storage. It’s going to be interesting to see how well it fares alongside the other aged Oolongs in my stash, to see if more time brings even more complexity of taste.
Watch this space, etc…