October 19, 2016
Floating Leaves Tea - Da Yu Ling, a Taiwanese Oolong
I'm going to tell you what the Floating Leaves Tea Da Yu Ling oolong tastes like in the sixth sentence of this review. I enjoyed this tea but I couldn't pinpoint exactly its essence. I had not completed my session but decided I would take a break and run a few errands. One of my errands allowed me to flip through magazines one of which had an interview with Giada de Laurentiis. In the article Giada mentioned cooking farro risotto with cherries. And just like that, I knew that Da Yu Ling is like a risotto flavored with cherries. The oolong doesn't literally taste like risotto but drinking it is similar to eating a creamy risotto. I have never eaten cherries with my risotto but I can imagine it and I think this comparison is pretty accurate. Even if this assessment is merely figurative, Da Yu Ling would pair well with a risotto.
I followed the steeping directions provided my Floating Leaves Tea: 7 grams in 120 mL of (195F) water with infusions times of 25s, 20s, 17s, 20s, and 35s. The dry leaves of the Da Yu Ling smelled similar to the other high mountain oolongs I've been drinking from Floating Leaves but it was sweeter smelling. The rolled leaves were bigger with visible stems.
The first infusion was pale colored with rich, green smelling leaves and a light creamy liquor which reminded me of the sweetness of a gyokuro. (Yes!) There was a hint of flint in the end note. The second infusion was buttery with a detectable fruit note of fresh cherry to maybe strawberry jam. The liquor from the third infusion was noticeably more robust. It smelled floral, buttery and like green leafy vegetables. It had a smooth, buttery texture with an fruit end note. The front note reminded me of a hot breakfast of oatmeal topped with brown sugar. This tea has so many facets. The fourth infusion made me think of a tieguanyin's floral and vegetal characteristics but these greens were buttered and the liquor lingered with a cherry/blackberry flavor. The final infusion was one dimensional in contrast to the previous steeps. Poured out of the pot it released floral notes, drunk from the cup it tasted like butter, and finished with a cherry stone aftertaste.
Da Yu Ling is a high mountain tea or gao shan cha. Dayuling is part of the Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) range, and the tea gardens there are "among the highest in the world, at an approximate altitude of 8,500 feet (2,600 m)" according to Kevin Gascoyne et al. (2016). In response to the environmental conditions present at high altitudes, teas produced from these regions have deeper and more complex flavors. I'd say this is true of this Da Yu Ling from Floating Leaves Tea. I look forward to drinking more of this tea and using different steeping parameters.
I purchased this and other oolongs in the Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Sampler from Floating Leaves Tea. Curious about teas in the sampler? Here is my review of the 2016 Spring Ali Shan.