August 17, 2016
In Pursuit of Tea - Tieguanyin, Medium Roast
Was tieguanyin your first oolong? I think it may have been mine but heavily roasted in the traditional manner. In Tea: History, Terroirs, and Varieties, the authors point out that the production of mucha (roasted) tieguanyin in Taiwan is declining noticeably as tea drinkers there express preference for oolongs with "delicate floral aromas". I don't know the origin of that first roasted tieguanyin I drank but the one I am reviewing today is from Fujian. I purchased this oolong as part of a sampler from In Pursuit of Tea.
The sample contained approximately 6 grams of tea. The leaves were rolled and colored various shades of green. The sample was not uniform as it contained a noticeable amount of broken leaves. I rinsed the tea in 195F water. The leaves smelled heavily of charcoal which makes sense since the tea is finished over charcoal. The liquor from the first infusion tasted of charcoal but was quickly followed by sweet, stone fruit flavors. For the second steep I used 185F water. The liquor was golden yellow. Again, charcoal was the prominent note but was followed by roasted or stewed stone fruit with an emerging floral smell. Also, I detected a tartness that I experienced in my cheeks. The third steep also yielded a floral note which I associate with roses or cherry blossoms though the floral aromas most commonly associated with Anxi tieguanyin are lily of the valley, hyacinth, and clover. Maybe I need an apprenticeship in a flower shop!
The liquor changes dramatically at the fifth and sixth steeps. The roasted oolong essence gives way to a greener oolong profile. The floral note is more dominant than the charcoal. Also, there are herbaceous, vegetal notes. The liquor has a buttery texture. I infused the leaves twice more for 45s and 60s. The flavors had faded significantly by the latter.
Such a curious tieguanyin. I experienced two types of oolong in one tea. The tea started off with a dark oolong profile and ended like a less oxidized oolong. Actually, I guess that's why this tea is classified as a medium roast oolong. It's in the middle of the spectrum.
P.S. Interested in other teas from In Pursuit of Tea? Read about my experience with their 2013 loose leaf puer.