March 22, 2016

Tea Ave Mountaintop Sampler Oolongs

Image: Alishan

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen many photos of the oolongs included in Tea Ave's Mountaintop Sampler. Last week, I shared my tasting notes on the Tea Ave Tie Kwan Yin (alongside notes of three other oolongs), so today's post is about the other five oolongs in the sampler listed in the order I drank them: Wenshan Baochung, Oriental Beauty, Alishan Jin Xuan, LiShan, and DongDing. I purchased the teas though Tea Ave provided drinking order recommendations.


Wenshan Baochung

The takeaway is that I should have steeped the entire contents of the pouch (7.43g). For the first session I used 4g with the remainder going towards a second session. The aroma of the very first infusion was of flowers and vegetables (think asparagus). There were butter notes, too. Curiously, the second infusion of the second session had a more robust flavor than the first infusion of the first session. The liquor was buttery, floral, and sweet with a lingering finish. The third infusion was buttery and floral. It liquor was slightly dry. The leaves smelled creamy, almost like a camembert. As the liquor cooled, its mouthfeel thickened.


Oriental Beauty

The leaves of this oolong were twisted and were colored brownish orange, green, or white with fuzz. The water temperature varied between 185F and 190F (the seventh infusion was accidentally prepared at 195F). The first infusion with 5g was 30s and produced a lightly colored and flavored liquor. Remembering my experience with the baozhong, I added the remaining 2.42g for the second infusion, also 30s. The liquor was darker with herbal, woody flavors. The third infusion was 10s longer and the gaiwan was stuffed with fully open leaves. Yum, I noted. The liquor smelled and tasted like cocoa. The tea was rich, dry, and sweet. There was a lingering muscatel finish. Herbaceous flavors emerged in the fourth (50s) and fifth (60s) infusions. I noted honey, roasted, and cocoa notes. Bread dough flavor emerged in the sixth infusion and a cooled seventh infusion revealed chrysanthemum notes. The liquor was very dark by the eighth infusion but the complexity of flavors had begun to decline. The ninth and final infusion was very mellow. My experience with this oolong reminded me of a Dian Hong.


Alishan Jin Xuan

The small, tight balls of this oolong unfurled into large, long leaves. I steeped 8g of the total 9.37g in 195F water. I started with a 60s steep and increased each subsequent steep by 20s. The leaves were steeped for 5m to prepare the seventh and final cup. The aroma of the first cup was creamy, woodsy, slightly smoky, and of hay. The liquor was slightly dry and floral (rose? lilac?) with a full mouthfeel and a lingering finish of green vegetables. The same for the second cup. The third cup also had a full mouthfeel, was creamy, and produced a tingling effect in the folds of my cheeks. At the time I didn't realize that Alishan is one and the same with milk oolong. The fourth cup was similar with more dryness. The fifth cup was a pleasure. The lingering finish was of stone fruit. The liquor of the sixth cup was still golden yellow but it had more clarity. It was fruit forward yet dry followed by a creamy mouthfeel. The finish was shorter with a new note of citrus. By the seventh cup, the creaminess was replaced by a dry mouthfeel with stone fruit and mineral notes.


LiShan

This tea was prepared using 8g and 185F water. The first infusion was 60s in length and each subsequent infusion was an additional 20s longer. As with the other teas, I barely covered the leaves with water and rinsed them for 5s. The liquor from the first infusion was a light golden color. It was aromatic and silky. The color of the liquor deepened with the second infusion and the flavors intensified. The liquor from the third infusion had more clarity. It was fruity (pear and Meyer Lemon), dry, and floral. The flavors were rounder in the fourth infusion but the citrus was more bitter than sweet. The fifth infusion was creamy, floral, and still with a bitter citrus note. The sixth and final infusion was very mellow.



Dong Ding

I did not do this oolong justice! Next time I will use fewer grams (6 instead of 8) and steep at a lower temperature for shorter infusion times. That being said, I did have a several good moments with this tea. The aroma of my cup after the first infusion was of maple syrup on warm pancakes and the tea itself tasted like grilled fruit. The cup from the third infusion was floral and really smooth. The fourth infusion had notes of roasted grains.

I am happy that I ordered the oolong sampler. Now the question is, which oolong should I order more of? Which one is your favorite?

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P.S. Don't forget to read my notes on Tea Ave's Tie Kwan Yin. You might also be interested in previous* reviews of two Tea Ave oolongs -- Wenshan Boachong and LiShan.

*The teas reviewed in these posts were provided by the company.

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