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maxmillan

Oolong Teas: a complex world between green & black

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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.

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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.

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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!

th_1-11.jpg

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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.

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

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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.

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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 clarification (log)

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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!

th_1-11.jpg

Great story.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

I have no idea. I guess it's descriptive for the fragrance, but not sure if there is a story.

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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.

The seasoning of the 90 ml Yixing made of Qing Shui Ni clay with aged Oolongs continues to come along nicely. Just poured two rich and pleasant infusions from it, and another brewing session or two should put it in good enough shape to use regularly and do some comparisons. I have been using 4.5 grams of leaf (any one of three aged Oolongs) and using longer infusions than I would for most Oolongs: starting at 30 seconds, with temps at about 205 or higher. And leaving the drained leaf in the pot overnight to help with the seasoning.

More to come in a week or two. I'll be in a better position then to compare the effects of using a couple of different Yixings and a gaiwan...in my usual pseudo-scientific manner. :wink:

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Today I broke into the Hankook korean oolong I bought at Chasaengwon last week.

I did not weigh the tea but filled the small gaiwan about 1/4 full by eye. I started with water about 190 degrees, and infused 30" after a quick rinse. Then multiple additional infusions about 30-60 seconds apiece, water temperature varying as the water in the pot cooled and was rewarmed a little.

It's an interesting fruity tea, reminds me of the Bai Mu Dan I tasted last week--peachy, a hint of fermented fruit. I'm not sure I really enjoy that particular flavor note very much, and will have to play with this one a few more times before I have a good sense of it. It also resembles the Oriental Beauty from Yunnan that I drank this week, from Yunnan Sourcing. Not as toasty or spicy as Wuyi, nor greenly floral like the low-oxidized green oolongs.

4412190729_92d8031438.jpg


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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I also brewed up a little bit of the 2009 Spring Zhen-Yen Handcrafted "Rou Gui" from Houde. Spicy, sweet, complex and toasty. Will do it up with pictures another day. Today was brewing tiny quantities to not OD on tea but to check out several of the way-too-many teas that recently came home with me.

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This is the first of three Aged TGY Oolongs. This one is from The Cultured Cup, and the others are from Norbutea.com and jingteashop.com. Brewing is gong fu cha style in a 90 ml fang gu shape (more flat than tall) Yixing teapot made of qing shu ni clay, made some time in the last ten years. The pot with limited seasoning tends to smooth and round off the edge of roasty flavors, and may enhance other flavors slightly -- too soon to say for sure.

The dry aroma is roast with a hint of cocoa; the wet aroma is similar with the addition of a whif of stone fruit.

flash rinse

1:30 sec - stone fruit aroma; medium body; golden tea liqupr; creamy mouthfeel, roast stone fruit flavor.

2:30 - aroma is more roasty; honey, roasty flavor.

3:60 - floral aroma emerging; roasty, hint of floral flavor.

4:90 - less aroma, but floral flavor predominate.

5:120 - (after a rest of a few hours and a 10 second rinse) similar to 4th infusion. Tea liquor is still quite golden and the flavor seems likely to stand up to at least 2 - 3 more infusions.

All in all this is an elegant, somewhat delicate, aged TGY brewed in this manner.

More on the next two aged TGYs over the next week.

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Followup note: I got three more very good infusions out of this Aged TGY and it clearly would go for two more. But I am giving up before it does. :)

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If you enjoy teas from Teavanna, try the Monkey picked oolong. It's the best

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This is the second of three Aged TGY Oolongs. This one is from norbutea.com, and the others are from theculturedcup.com and jingteashop.com. Brewing again is gong fu cha style, 4.5 g in a 90 ml fang gu shape (more flat than tall) Yixing teapot made of qing shu ni clay, made some time in the last ten years. The pot with limited seasoning tends to smooth and round off the edge of roasty flavors, and may enhance other flavors slightly -- too soon to say for sure.

The dry aroma is roasty and the wet aroma is a little more roasty.

flash rinse

1:30 sec - roasty aroma; medium body; golden tea liqupr; creamy mouthfeel, roast stone fruit flavor.

2:30 - roasty aroma; creamy; stone fruit flavor.

3:45 - similar to second infusion, with stone fruit more prominent than the roasted flavor.

4:75 - less aroma, otherwise similar to third infusion.

More infusions left in this Aged Oolong, which may be slighty fuller body than the previous one. They are different, but it's difficult to describe the relatively subtle differences.

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This is the third of three Aged TGY Oolongs. This one is from jingteashop.com, and the others are from theculturedcup.com and norbutea.com. Brewing again is gong fu cha style, 4.5 g in the same 90 ml fang gu shape (more flat than tall) Yixing teapot made of qing shu ni clay, made some time in the last ten years. The pot with limited seasoning tends to smooth and round off the edge of roasty flavors, and may enhance other flavors slightly -- too soon to say for sure.

The dry aroma is mildly roasty and the wet aroma is stone fruit and mildly roasty.

flash rinse

1:20 sec - stone fruit and roasty aroma; medium-light body; light-golden tea liquor; lightly creamy mouthfeel, honey and stone fruit flavor over light roasted flavor. (By accident pulled this at 20 sec rather than 30.)

2:30 - stone fruit over faint toasted aroma; light-creamy; stone fruit and roasted flavor.

3:60 - fainter aroma than second infusion; deeper color to the tea liquor; creamy; stone fruit and roasted flavor.

4:90 - less aroma, color similar to last infusion; floral flavor emerging, as well as stone fruit; more astringent than roasty.

5:3 min - similar to last infusion.

There are more infusions left in this pot. I'll post a follow up note if I brew more.

Again, it is somewhat difficult to describe the differences between these Aged Oolongs. My descriptions are not as helpful as I would like since I brewed on different days and the length of infusions varied in a couple of instances. In addition, getting the same brewing parameters for the three may not represent each on at its best. All of them make a nice cup of tea for me. I'll post more when and if I find the sweet spot for any of them and if I brew them western style.

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Yesterday I tried re-brewing one of the above Aged TGY Oolongs, the one from jingteashop.com. This time I did it with a higher leaf:water ratio - 2 g to one ounce water instead of 1.5 g.

Much improvement in an already tasty aged Oolong. This appears to be the sweet spot for this one. I'll try the other two over the next week or so and report back to see if I can get a similar improvement.

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