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Oolong Teas: a complex world between green & black


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#61 LuckyGirl

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 10:41 AM

I had a most enjoyable few cups of tea the other day from Norbu's "Iron Goddess of Mercy" or "Tie Guan Yin".

The Norbu website reports this tea as a heat dried, non-roasted tea from Spring of '09.

I found this tea to be both floral and fruity but not in the perfumey floral way that turns me off of some of the green oolongs. Even though it is not a roasted tea it gave me a light toastiness along with the fruit and floral notes that I greatly enjoyed. Nice full side of medium body and mouth-feel. Slight oily mouth-feel, not in a bad way rather in a rich, enjoyable way. Flavors like plum/prune mixed with tropical flowers.

Semi-sweet. Slightly tannic finish. Lingers nicely.

I brewed it 6g to 12 oz water just under the boil. First two steeps at 3 minutes and third steep at 4.

#62 nakji

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 06:26 PM

I really, really, enjoy tie guan yin, and order it every time I go to a teahouse. Visitors also all go home with a small bag tucked into their luggage, I can't help spreading the love. I liked jasmine tea for so long, but now I find I can't go back, as it's too perfumey.

#63 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 09:17 PM

I attended a party not too far from Tea Habitat this afternoon, so stopped in afterwards to enjoy a cup of tea, and brought home this 2007 Po Tuo Ginger Flower Fragrance Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong.

I brewed up 1 gram in 2 oz water, about 180°F, first infusion only 30 seconds. It was better at 2nd for 60 seconds, holding up well through 5 infusions so far. It came out a little light bodied at this leaf/water ratio, and I'll use a little more next time.

It is sweet, spicy, floral, and with a little of that elusive flavor element we were enjoying trying to figure out in the Mao Xie Hairy Crab tasting. And while it shares a certain quality--lacking a word for it, I'll just call it 'wild'--with the Ba Xian Dan Cong, it does not have the strong fruity, almost citrusy flavor of the Ba Xian. I can see why Imen says this is a favorite.

I'll also be interested to compare it to the 2009 Wu Ye I picked up at the same time, because it comes from a tree grown from the seeds of the Po Tuo.

#64 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:04 PM

Finishing up with a bit of Norbu's Lao Tie Guan Yin aged late 90s oolong tonight, receieved as part of a tea swap with LuckyGirl. Quite interesting--there is a strong smoky/earthy scent but the flavor is more tart, fruity, and sweet than toasty. THere is also a long spicy finish.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 14 January 2010 - 10:07 PM.


#65 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 07:58 AM

Finishing up with a bit of Norbu's Lao Tie Guan Yin aged late 90s oolong tonight, receieved as part of a tea swap with LuckyGirl. Quite interesting--there is a strong smoky/earthy scent but the flavor is more tart, fruity, and sweet than toasty. THere is also a long spicy finish.


I forgot I had that tea until I just saw your post. I don't think I've even tried it yet. I will make a point of trying it in the next day or two.

#66 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:21 AM

I am currently enjoying a cup of Norbu's Ban Tian Yao, Wu Yi Oolong.

This is a neat tea to me in that it's the first time I really get the sweet/tart element that I have read in some tea descriptions. The first thing that hit me upon my first sip was the tea's spiciness and it was very enjoyable.

Greg from Norbu described this tea as having a sasparilla note and since reading that I have found that taste in several Wu Yi teas that I've had in the past few weeks.

There is something about this tea and another Wu Yi that I had recently that is odd. I get a *slight* chemical-like taste from the tea especially after the first cup. Chemical is actually not exactly the right word but I don't know what other word to use. It is almost like a stale note. I'm obviously having a hard time describing it but I've noticed it each time I've had this tea and the Shui Jin Gui, Wu Yi Oolang, also from Norbu. It is not enough to keep me from drinking the tea but it's a back note that's definitely there.

#67 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:33 AM

The past week I have greatly enjoyed drinking Norbu's Imperial Dian Hong - Spring 08 Black Tea.

Of all the teas I've had in the past several months I would say this is one of my favorites. It is full bodied and rich, sweet, creamy and balanced with malty, roasted, toasted notes. It has no sour/tart or bitter notes. The roundness and creaminess of this tea put me in mind of a good yeasty, creamy Champagne.

I am eager to try other Yunnan teas of this style and will also be sure to order more of this one.

#68 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:34 PM

So, I just read the description of Wuyi "Rosk" teas here- http://www.jkteashop...c-59_62_93.html

I wonder if the taste I described as slightly chemical is the "rock" taste.

#69 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 11:27 PM

I've not found the Big Red Robe tea (I have gotten mine from Wing Hop Fung) to have any off flavors that I would describe as 'chemical': I get some smoky-toasty, earthy, fruity, and sweet.

There is a taste I've been thinking of as 'camphor' in several teas recently, which is a bit resinous. Although I've never tasted true camphor, that word comes up frequently when I've read about teas, and when I looked it up and read about it, it sounds like what I think I'm detecting in these teas. I think of this as part of the 'wild' flavor I was describing in another thread (the tea discoveries topic), I have found that flavor in my Dan Congs, Yunnan Mao Feng green tea, Yunnan wild camellia spring tea, and the white bud sheng puerh I got from norbutea, but not in the Big Red Robe from Wuyi!

Now very curious as to what the flavor is, and whether you might have sent me a sample of that tea. Unfortunately I took most of them to work so can't check right now.

#70 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 08:12 AM

So, I just read the description of Wuyi "Rosk" teas here- http://www.jkteashop...c-59_62_93.html

I wonder if the taste I described as slightly chemical is the "rock" taste.


I think you are on the right trail. A minerality as a component of the taste perhaps.

#71 LuckyGirl

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:20 PM


So, I just read the description of Wuyi "Rosk" teas here- http://www.jkteashop...c-59_62_93.html

I wonder if the taste I described as slightly chemical is the "rock" taste.


I think you are on the right trail. A minerality as a component of the taste perhaps.


Hmm, I guess what I'm tasting could be a mineral component. It is different then the mineraliness I've gotten from other teas but I suppose I could stretch my idea of mineraliness to include this taste that I can't quite put my finger on.

I've gotten this taste from three specific Wu Yi teas. When I have a chance I will look through my stash to see which in particular they were.

#72 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 08:37 PM

Got this one in a tea swap from LuckyGirl: Lao Tie Guan Yin - Late 90s Aged Tie Guan Yin Oolong from Norbu. It was interesting. Compared to the dark roast Tie Guan Yin, this was missing a lot of the darker, earthy elements, but had a fruity tartness that reminded me of wine.

It was very interesting, but not as much to my taste as the regular dark roast or the lighter oxidized greens. Those I shared it with were quite impressed.

#73 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:11 PM

How did you brew the aged TGY, WC?

#74 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:18 PM

I brewed it like I would a dark roasted TGY or wuyi oolong, water hot but several minutes off boiling, but I did not have enough time to weigh or keep track of infusions. But basically a typical several-infusions-to-fill-the-thermos brewing.

#75 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:52 PM

It's been a few weeks since I have brewed this, WC. I agree that it's an interesting tea, and a little different than the other aged Oolongs I have had. Don't know if I have any notes, but recall that I brewed it in the 195 - 205 range and that it responds well to good Yixing clay. I'll have to brew it at different temps, different leaf:water ratios and different Yixings and see what happens.

#76 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 07:54 PM

I think the basic brewing was just fine--perhaps a touch light on the leaf:water ratio, and there were no off flavors. I think I just prefer the non-aged versions.

#77 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 05:50 AM

Brewing the aged TGY (1990s) from norbutea.com thanks to WC reminding me of it. Brewed in a Yixing made of 70s-80s clay. 7 g: 100-120 ml in this 170 ml teapot. The temp gradually increased over the first three infusions - 195, 205 210 F. Enjoying the third the best so far: fuller, richer and better balance between the roasty and fruity flavors. More to go.

#78 gingko

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 10:50 AM

Today I am enjoying a Wuyi Qian Li Xiang (thousand mile fragrant). I am very thankful to a friend who send it to me from Thailand. What a luck to have a tea that's produced in Wuyi, transported to a historic tea store in Bangkok, bought by an American living in Thailand and sent to a Chinese living in America! :laugh:

The tea is a small variety of Wuyi, rarely seen in market and this is my first time to have it!

Posted Image

#79 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:55 AM

Is it particularly floral? Or does it have a strong fruit aroma? That name is very intriguing.

#80 gingko

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 05:43 PM

Is it particularly floral? Or does it have a strong fruit aroma? That name is very intriguing.

Fruity may be a more proper description. It's on the lighter side for fruit aroma and warmer side for floral aroma, very different from the floral fragrance from light oxidized oolong.

#81 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 06:29 PM

SOunds delicious.

#82 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:35 PM

Does the "thousand mile fragrant" name refer to how far away the aroma carries, or is there more of a story to it?

#83 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:35 AM

Brewing the aged TGY (1990s) from norbutea.com thanks to WC reminding me of it. Brewed in a Yixing made of 70s-80s clay. 7 g: 100-120 ml in this 170 ml teapot. The temp gradually increased over the first three infusions - 195, 205 210 F. Enjoying the third the best so far: fuller, richer and better balance between the roasty and fruity flavors. More to go.


Brewed this aged TGY again today in a 90 ml Yixing made of Qing Shui Ni clay using the same brewing parameters on the first three infusions and the result was thinner and less fruity. This pot has had less use and thus less seasoning, so that may have something to do with it, or it may not be the best match for this tea. So next I'll brew in a porcelain gaiwan and see what happens.

#84 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 02:10 PM


Brewing the aged TGY (1990s) from norbutea.com thanks to WC reminding me of it. Brewed in a Yixing made of 70s-80s clay. 7 g: 100-120 ml in this 170 ml teapot. The temp gradually increased over the first three infusions - 195, 205 210 F. Enjoying the third the best so far: fuller, richer and better balance between the roasty and fruity flavors. More to go.


Brewed this aged TGY again today in a 90 ml Yixing made of Qing Shui Ni clay using the same brewing parameters on the first three infusions and the result was thinner and less fruity. This pot has had less use and thus less seasoning, so that may have something to do with it, or it may not be the best match for this tea. So next I'll brew in a porcelain gaiwan and see what happens.


I have now brewed the aged TGY from norbutea.com in a 100 ml porcelain gaiwan using the same brewing parameters. Not as good as with the Yixing made of 70's-80's clay, but delicious and much better than with the Yixing made with recent Qing Shui Ni. Using the gaiwan the fruitiness comes through and the balance is good between that and the baked flavor. Whatever its future may be, the Qing Shui Ni is sucking the fruitiness out at this point. (That actually may be a good sign. More on that as this pot seasons from use.)

Clarification: in the Qing Shui Ni Yixing and the gaiwan, I brewed all infusions at 205, not in the graduated steps I used in the first Yixing. The hotter temp really brings out this tea. I may need to try it closer to 212 F just to see what happens.

Edited by Richard Kilgore, 25 January 2010 - 09:27 AM.
clarification


#85 LuckyGirl

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 09:04 AM

Today I am enjoying a Wuyi Qian Li Xiang (thousand mile fragrant). I am very thankful to a friend who send it to me from Thailand. What a luck to have a tea that's produced in Wuyi, transported to a historic tea store in Bangkok, bought by an American living in Thailand and sent to a Chinese living in America! :laugh:

The tea is a small variety of Wuyi, rarely seen in market and this is my first time to have it!

Posted Image


Great story.

#86 LuckyGirl

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 06:50 PM

Brewing the aged TGY (1990s) from norbutea.com thanks to WC reminding me of it. Brewed in a Yixing made of 70s-80s clay. 7 g: 100-120 ml in this 170 ml teapot. The temp gradually increased over the first three infusions - 195, 205 210 F. Enjoying the third the best so far: fuller, richer and better balance between the roasty and fruity flavors. More to go.


I'm enjoying my second infusion of this tea right now.

I like the dried fruit flavors I get from it, dried figs come to mind with a hint of dried apricot. I also like the toasted notes this tea gives.

I didn't notice it on the first infusion but on the very end this one has that component I referred to as a slight chemical taste. It is definitely a component of the minerality of this tea, what I now think of as the "rock" taste. It is not offensive and not as predominate as it was in two of the other teas that gave me that taste.

#87 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 09:55 PM

Interesting, I'll have to pay attention next time. I had not thought dried figs and apricot, but I suspect that's a good description of the fruit notes.

I am pretty sure that what you are detecting is some aspect of the baked flavor, since this is not a rock tea. And, being new to teas, I am also sure you are not aware that describing that element as "chemical" is the same in the tea world as saying the tea is tainted. If you think it is tainted, that's one thing, but if not, you may want to find another way to describe it.

I am seasoning the Yixing I am trying to dedicate to aged TGYs, and hopefully after a few weeks of brewing it will smooth the baked flavors and pull for the fruit and result in a richer, better balance than the porcelain gaiwan gave, as noted above. The clay is on the softer side and is absorbing flavor at this point, rather than putting it in my mouth. At some point in seasoning, this should begin to change. Here's hoping.

#88 LuckyGirl

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:30 PM

Interesting, I'll have to pay attention next time. I had not thought dried figs and apricot, but I suspect that's a good description of the fruit notes.

I am pretty sure that what you are detecting is some aspect of the baked flavor, since this is not a rock tea. And, being new to teas, I am also sure you are not aware that describing that element as "chemical" is the same in the tea world as saying the tea is tainted. If you think it is tainted, that's one thing, but if not, you may want to find another way to describe it.

I am seasoning the Yixing I am trying to dedicate to aged TGYs, and hopefully after a few weeks of brewing it will smooth the baked flavors and pull for the fruit and result in a richer, better balance than the porcelain gaiwan gave, as noted above. The clay is on the softer side and is absorbing flavor at this point, rather than putting it in my mouth. At some point in seasoning, this should begin to change. Here's hoping.


I will be more particular about the words I choose to describe the flavors. I did not mean to say that the tea was tainted.

I am having a hard time sorting out just what it is I'm tasting.

The Ban Tian Yao and Shui Jin Gui, Spring 09 Wu Yi Oolong Teas from Norbu both gave me this taste that I can only describe as a slight chlorine taste. At first I thought that maybe somehow these two teas brought out the tast of chlorine in my filtered tap water but I brewed them with two different bottled waters and I also brewed it when I was in Mexico with the same result. It is not a bold chlorine taste like what you might smell in tap water that is strong on chlorine but it is more like a residual essence of chlorine. I was thinking that it could be a part of the mineral quality of the two teas or the "rock" essence.

Whatever it is, I get the same thing on the back end of the Lao Tie Guan Yin - Late 90s Aged Tie Guan Yin Oolong from Norbu. I think it is a minerality but it is different from the minerality I get from wine. I get this "minerality" then the slight spiciness from the finish.

So, I will refrain from continuing to use the words chemical or chlorine. I wish I was better equipped to describe what it is I'm tasting.

#89 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:50 PM

I agree. Describing teas is a challenge for me certainly. There are things in the growing environment, such as plants that do not grow here that can lend a note to a tea. But since these are teas grown in different areas of China, we can't really say it's the soil and probably not the other surrounding plant life. I'll pay very careful attention to the next brewing sessions with this tea (and the other two) and see what I can come up with.

#90 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 06:09 PM

The aged TGYs are an interesting subgroup, and I am continuing to explore them - three now. But I am also seasoning the pot that I hope to dedicate to them, and although it is coming along nicely today, it may be a few weeks before I can do some of the comparisons I would like to do between the teas and the brewing vessels: a porcelain gaiwan and two Yixings made of different clays.