Alishan Roasted

Alishan roasted - dry leaf

Just the other day I ordered 400 grams of House of Tea‘s Keemun Congou, winner of the contest to replace my rapidly dwindling supplies of Bai Mu Dan as my go-to early morning tea.

When the package arrived a day later (yesterday, I think…hard to tell during these isolation days, isn’t it..?) it also contained a free 3 gram sample of Alishan Roasted Oolong, the subject of this post.

This was interesting, as I’d played with a similarly sized sample of their unroasted Alishan way back in April of 2016, and enjoyed it enough to put it on my “must buy later” list.

House of Tea’s notes tell us that this is a lightly oxidized and lightly roasted tea, that was harvested in the spring of 2020. The raw material is of the Chin Shin cultivar, and hails from the Alishan area of Chiayi county, Taiwan, and grew at an elevation of 1300 metres.

Apart from a slight reduction in water temperature from 100°C to 95°C, I played it by House of Tea’s brewing guidelines…

Steeping method
Water Used: Filtered tap water
Weight of dry leaf: 3 grams
Infusion style: Western
Steeping vessel: 200 ml ceramic teapot
Water temperature: 95°C
No. & duration: 3 infusions of 3 minutes, 3 minutes, and 4 minutes duration

After allowing the leaf to sit in the warmed up pot for a few seconds I lifted the lid and had a sniff, and was greeted by the aromas of fresh out of the oven biscuits and something flowery that to my untutored olfactory receptors said roses.

Alishan roasted - a cup of

The first infusion had a feel of “early days” about it – the pale looking liquor was mostly all about that floral note but with pleasantly milky hints and nary a trace of bitterness. These taste sensations arrived on the back of a medium body, but you were left wondering if they’d forgotten the roastiness at a gas station somewhere on the way over.

Things got a little beefier all round with the second steeping, with even a hint of the roast making its voice heard from the back of the hall, but it still felt as though the leaves were holding something in reserve.

The third round, as is so often the case with these small samples, was nice enough but clearly I’d taken everything those 3 grams had been capable of giving.

Alishan roasted - used leaves

Obviously the usual “sample” caveats must apply, but even allowing for those there was still the feeling here that these leaves would be seriously capable of upping their game if there were twice as many of them partying together in a gaiwan.

As always the $64,000 dollar question with any sample is “would you shell out for a full sized cargo?

The honest answer is that I’m tempted mes braves, I’m very tempted indeed.

Watch this space, etc…

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