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Monday, February 02, 2015

NEW Teas - The Winter Oolongs Have Arrived!

The NEW teas are here!!

I returned from Taiwan about 3 weeks ago and have been so busy tasting, inventorying and tidying up the shop that I’m just now sitting down and writing about all of the beautiful teas that I was able to find this season.  I had a great trip and spent several days with my buyers and my tea farmers in Taipei, and I also got to spend some time with my family.  I love Taiwan!

Seattle had a record-breaking year of warm weather this year.  Taiwan was also a bit warmer than usual, which resulted in a warmer tea season with an earlier-than-usual harvest.  The fragrance of the High Mountain oolongs’ bouquets is a bit more muted than last year’s harvest, but the tea broth is solid, round and full.  Here are some of my notes:

Alishan: the lightest and the brightest of the high mountains this season.  Pleasant and refreshing, with a clean aftertaste.

ShanLinXi: soft, creamy, and citrus-fruit flavors.  My buyer knows that I especially like an exquisite tea broth, and he was right on in helping me pick this one. He predicted that the ShanLinXi’s complex flavor would be my favorite of the season.  It is very good, but still too early for me to pick a favorite.

Lishan: Heavier body and stronger aftertaste than the ShanLinXi.  Bold flavors, fruity, and a satisfying finish.  I am enjoying this tea very much and am having a difficult time deciding if I like the ShanLinXi or Lishan better. 

I had an interesting experience with this season's High Mountain teas that I want to share. While I was in Taiwan, I tasted the same ShanLinXi that I brought back.  I noticed the bouquet was stronger in Taiwan, so I thought it might have something to do with the water I used.  After I came back to Seattle, I tasted the Lishan and I thought the bouquet had disappeared, which really shocked me!  I tried it the next day and the bouquet was still not there.  I tried the Lishan from the same bag again on the third day and it turned out just as lovely as I remembered it in Taiwan!  The body, the taste, the scent and the aftertaste were all there!  I noticed that on the first two days, it was dark and rainy outside, but on the third day, it was sunny.  I wonder if the air pressure, weather, etc has some impact on how much of the bouquet shows up.  Anyway, I’m glad the right flavor profile has returned.  I have found that tea sometimes gets “jet lag,” too, and may need a little bit of time to open up. 

I’m excited about these teas and will be doing tastings soon – the schedule will be arranged and posted later this week.  I also brought back other teas, including a nice moderate roast Dong Ding, so I’ll post the notes about those teas, along with the tasting schedule, soon. 

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