Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Zhi Tea
This is a Grade AAA tea from Spring, 1990, stored in a vacuum seal. We have procured this Aged Oolong from Zhu Shan or Bamboo Mountain in Taiwan. It has been refired or roasted eighteen months to retain and enhance its incredible qualities. It was grown at mid/high elevation from a soft stem varietal, in Zhu Shan, Taiwan.
Fantastic rare artisan tea here. Incredibly smooth and complex. Initial strong roasted quality as can be expected with round notes of acorn, baked bread, sweetgrass, and pine.
Learn more about this tea here.
The dry leaf aroma is quite unique, unlike any other tea that I can recall. It does have a roasted smell, reminding me a bit of the smell of burning dry leaves, along with hints of smoke and wood. It is a very rustic kind of smell, evoking thoughts of a log cabin deep in the forest with smoke billowing out of the chimney. It is a warm, inviting kind of smell, very masculine.
I steeped this the same way I’d steep just about any other Oolong, using my gaiwan and short steeps, starting with a quick rinse to awaken the tea leaves, and then 45 seconds for the first steep, adding 15 seconds for each subsequent steep.
The first two infusions delivered a very smooth liquor with very little astringency. The flavor is a roasted kind of flavor … almost charcoal-ish, but not in an off-putting way. I guess the way I’d explain it as the delicious, deep charred kind of flavor you’d get when you grill food over charcoal. There are notes of camphor and a sweet caramel-y undertone. The flavor is so smooth that this cup disappeared rather quickly!
With the third and fourth infusions, I noticed a bit more astringency – mild, but more obvious than with the first cup – and it leaves the palate feeling slightly dry and clean and ready for another sip. I think that this cup disappeared faster as a result. There is still that roasted/charred/smoke kind of flavor, as well as a caramel flavor underneath. I am finding this to taste more of char and smoke, less of wood and of thick caramel, with hints of spice and thinned honey in the background.
The fifth and sixth infusions offer the best flavor yet. Sweet! As in SWEET! Burnt sugar but without the bitterness of the burn … just pure sweet. Less of the astringency of the second cup, this is smooth like the first, but with less of the charcoal-y charred taste. The woody flavors seem to have been replaced with hints of earth, and the spice tones have emerged. I taste freshly baked bread – like the artisan bread baked in a fire-burning, stone oven. Very rustic and home-y and comforting, what was once an image of a log cabin with billows of smoke from its chimney is now the inside of that cabin, cozy beneath blankets and warm from the fire.
And these leaves appear ready to offer even more infusions! So, I shall take them up on that offer, and hope that the flavor is as good as that third cup. Yes! The sweetness is a bit softer, and the spices … almost cinnamon-y … give this cup a taste that reminds me a bit of cinnamon-raisin toast, maybe even a touch of butter and the edges are not burnt, but almost. Very toasty and delicious.
A wonderful tea to warm the very heart and soul of this Oolong enthusiast. If you love Oolong, you must try this one.