Dec. 24, 2007
Tea: 2007 Winter Mei-Shan, Wood-Roasted "Shui Xian" (Hand harvested Taiwanese oolong)
Vendor: Hou De
On the hi-fi: Timo van Luijk/Kris Vanderstraeten - "Costa del Luna" (La Scie Doree, 2007)
First off, I want to sing the praises of Guang/Hou De, who is easily one of the best, if not THE best, tea vendors that I've ever dealt with. Guang has immaculate taste, offers samples of what would be for me otherwise unavailable (read: $$$) aged puerhs, stocks consistently interesting, unique oolongs, often includes complimentary samples with orders, and, as a rule, ships out packages SUPER fast. If you're a tea enthusiast and you haven't yet checked out this intrepid American vendor - stop sleeping.
This particular Mei-Shan is a high mountain oolong which has been roasted. Guang was kind enough to include an unroasted sample along with my order, which I will likely review in the days to come.
1st/2nd infusions: One of the first things I noticed about this tea was its wonderful cooked sugar/vanilla aroma. I found myself ravenously sniffing my cup after emptying my rinse infusion until my first infusion had fully steeped. Tastewise, the first infusion opened with the warm, woody flavor that I find so delightful in properly roasted oolongs. Notes of dark fruit were present too. This is a tea with bold flavor.
3rd and 4th infusions: The big, smoky, almost lapsang-esque roasted flavor of the first infusions now died off slightly, giving way to a more floral and complex palate. There is a nice, subtle caramel-like sweetness to the liquor. Great brewing durability through the 4th infusion.
5th and 6th infusions: Much more fruity now, with the liquor turning from a deep amber to a lightish yellow. I increased the brewing time drastically for the 6th infusion, as the leaves were really starting to give out.
This is a very tasty roasted Taiwanese oolong. The used leaves were gorgeous: huge, juicy, in-tact leaf systems. As Guang pointed out in his entry at Hou De, this is a really nice winter tea. Its long finish and good brewing durability coupled with a great balance between high mountain floral qualities and the earthy woodiness of roasted oolong make for an engaging, enjoyable cup.