Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Winter Mei-Shan, Wood-Roasted "Shui Xian" oolong

Cincinnati, OH
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.


Scott S. Goodwin said...

I agree, Alex. Jefre and I had the roasted batch the other day, if I'm not mistaken. A very nice winter tea... lots of sugar/caramelized sugar tastes with a bit of plum.

I feel like people tend to overlook Hou De for oolong because pu-er is so hyped right now. But all the better because it seems like for now there is some excellent oolong that ounce for ounce is a better deal that a lot of younger sheng puer.

Tony Cross said...

Hi Alex,

That's a nice looking pot in the picture there. Maybe you can tell is more about it sometime?

Thanks for adding me as a contributor, by the way.


gd said...

nice write up. ill have to check out hou de.
thanks for adding me too, ill try to write a few tea things along the way. i enjoy all types of tea really. mostly chinese and japanese green teas, but im also fond of oolong and puerh and white tea as well. and my wife is an amateur community herbalist as well so there are lots of lovely herbal infusions at our house too. so i should have plenty of tea musings....

i had a really nice taiwanese oolong sampling session with the nice owner of floating tea leaves tea house in seattle back in october. maybe i will write about that and the tea that i bought from her.

also got a couple of nice green tea puerh cakes for christmas too.....

Alex Cobb said...

tony and greg - thanks for joining! looking forward to seeing posts from you both!

tony, i got that yixing pot from the local tea house here. its purple clay and i think its probably about 200cc capacity. i use it exclusively for oolong, it has become wonderfully seasoned.

greg - what kinds of sheng cakes did you get??