For my first post I am reviewing a tea that was sent to me by my friend, Tim. If you are lucky enough to read Chinese then you would know by looking at the beautiful, yet simple deep red and gold box that this was 2009 May Xiping Anxi TGY - I had to ask Tim. For the record the tea arrived at about noon and I got to it about 5pm on a day where the temperature in Austin reached about 105 degrees! The box is full of little metallic sealed packages of tea that I was unable to touch without burning myself for a good few minutes. This is ONE way to roast oolong, but I don't reccommend it ;)
I was able to have the tea a week later when the husband and the child were out of the house for the afternoon. I decided that I would keep my heated water in my PersonaliTEA, since my yixing has mysteriously gone missing, and place the leaves in my porcelain gaiwan. The steeps I did at Tim's suggestion; 10 second brews for the first 5 steeps, starting with boiling water. I was excited to try this. One legend about the discovery of TGY is that a scholar named Wang found the plant growing under a Guan Yin rock in Xiping, so it felt akin to eat Cheddar IN Cheddar, England or like drinking Guinness IN Dublin.
The balls were very tightly rolled and a very pretty emerald green in color. The dry leaf smelled a bit like Muslix cereal - grainy and vegetal. The liquor, though, smelled potently floral. I did a flash rinse and then sampled the first 10 second steep. I have to say I LOVE this tea. The floral and vegetal tastes combine beautifully and held on strong through 10 steeps. After the third steep there was a hint of astringency, but it was very slight. Starting at the sixth steep, which was 15 seconds, the finish was sharply bitter. I may be able to correct this by altering the steep time or water temp. Overall, this tea was much like the box it came in, simple, yet richly beautiful.
I had gathered from reviews others have done of Xiping that the aroma and taste would be subtle, but this was not the case here. Both the aroma and the taste were crisp, clear and present almost to an extreme. There are not a lot of competing flavors and aromas in this tea - it is rather minimalistic and uncomplicated. I think this aspect does not detract from the experience of this tea at all, but rather inhances it. You get to fully enjoy the florals and fresh green taste without being sidetracked by other flavors.
I am struggling to get the photo of the wet leaves to post upright, but no matter which way it ends up facing, you can see that the majority of the leaves are whole and deep green with ragged edges. They smelled a bit like a freshly watered garden which was quite pleasant and uplifting in its way.
I cannot wait to try a second session of this tea!