Shan Lin Shi

shan lin shi - dry leaf

Finding myself with more tea pennies than expected, I went on a mini-spluge on the Monday of the week just gone.

What started out as the planned purchase of Rare Tea Co.’s White Antlers, based on the ultra-tempting description of it given in Henrietta Lovell’s excellent Infused: Adventures In Tea, morphed into a haul of sorts once I twigged on that they stock quite a few of the other teas from the Satemwa estate in Malawi.

I’d sampled their take on shou pu-erh a while back, enjoyed it, and subsequently made a vow to purchase their other teas should the opportunity arise.

Well, it did, so I did.

Anyway, more about those teas in due course. The thing is, that round of tea acquisition didn’t completely drain the coffers, so I decided to tap up my more usual supplier, House of Tea, for something tasty.

I don’t know why, but when I logged on I was in the mood for strip Oolongs. It seemed like ages since I’d steeped this type of leaves, so I bought a couple – Feng Huang Da Wu Ye Dancong, and Feng Huang Ya Shi Dancong. The Ya Shi, AKA Duck Sh!t Aroma, was a nod to times past. The last time I’d indulged on that score was way back in April 2018, during my visit to Mei Leaf in London.

When the packet containing those two Oolongs arrived, I was very pleased to see the subject of this post had been included in the form of a free, 3 gram sample.

Shan Lin Shi Hong Cha, a black tea made from the same material, had been my favourite tea of 2019, so I was excited to get to grips with an Oolong made from those leaves.

Despite the fact that this was only a small, 3 gram sample, the dry leaf still packed a powerful aroma, which was like smelling the inside of an empty Tetra Pak that had very recently contained cream in a rose garden in the middle of summer.

As I tend to do these days I decided to play this more or less according to House of Tea’s suggested brewing parameters, with the exception of dropping the temperature of the tea water down to 90°C.

Steeping method
Water Used: Filtered tap water
Weight of dry leaf: 3 grams
Infusion style: Western
Steeping vessel: 200 ml ceramic teapot
Water temperature: 90°C
No. & duration: 3 infusions of 3, 3, and 4 minutes duration

It’s no exaggeration to say that the process of steeping that first round filled our living room with the twin aromas of heavy dairy produce and roses. It was as though someone had a pan containing rose petals, cream, and butter on a low simmer next door in the kitchen.

shan lin shi - a cup of

Right from the get-go these leaves meant business. The liquor was slick and smooth, and had a distinctively milky taste to it, with that floral thing scrambling over the top. The photo here simply does not do the colour of the tea justice – that is simply beyond my understanding of the techniques involved. It had a beautiful shimmering, oily, translucent quality that I was unable to capture.

The second infusion brought with it a power-up to the floral note, that now hung on the palate like an echo between two mountain peaks.

The third and final round marked the end of the session, but there was still enough of the good stuff left in the cup to suggest that a gong-fu session with 6 grams of these leaves might just result in a very enjoyable tea drinking experience.

shan lin shi - used leaves

I’ll certainly be ordering a full sized cargo of these leaves asap, if not actually pdq.

Good stuff.

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