On September 10th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Anxi County, in the south of Fujian Province, China. This sample was provided by Linda Lin of the Lin Family Farm.
Without a doubt, Anxi County is best known for it’s Ti Kuan Yin oolong tea, and most teaologists believe it to be the birthplace of this unique oolong. The Lin family specializes in the production of Ti Kuan Yin. As is the case with all tea farmers, the Lin’s produce various grades of their Ti Kuan Yin. This particular sample is their highest grade of A+. Based on the large size of these rolled leaves, and the appetizing smell, I am confident that this tea will live up to the grade.
In the interest of increasing my ability to post more reviews in a more time efficient manner, I have decided to change the template of future reviews. Being a stickler for uniformity is time consuming and tedious. However, I will try to touch on all of the same general points.
Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this Ti Kuan Yin oolong were obviously hand rolled, lightly oxidized. The size of the rolled balls was comparable to an average pea or corn kernel. The color ranged from fleshy to dark green. There was very little breakage, and very little stem, with no bare stems whatsoever. The aroma is vegetal and slightly bakey.
For all three infusions, I will be using water heated to 190ºF (88ºC), and infusing the tea leaves for 2 minutes. I used the sample packet of 10 grams with my 25 ounce (740 ml) glass teapot, then strained in to a separate decanter.
The color of the first infusion is light, pale yellow, clear and transparent. The aroma is floral, vegetal, and slightly bakey. The taste was phenomenal, with a silky feel, medium to mild body, subtle notes of flowers, slightly vegetal and nutty, with a light and pleasant aftertaste. The taste was perfectly balanced, and gave a noticeable feeling of contentment. Definitely the best tasting Ti Kuan Yin that I have had in my life.
The second infusion had a very slightly darker shade of pale yellow color, clear, and transparent. The aroma seems a little fuller, with pleasant vegetal and flowery fragrances, with a baked or roasted note. The taste was slightly fuller bodied, still silky and perfectly balanced floral, sweetly vegetal, and nutty tastes. Aftertaste is light. This second infusion was even better than the first, with a slightly fuller taste.
Everything about this third infusion is nearly the exact same as the second infusion. I did not notice a single difference in the color or aroma. The taste was almost identical to the second infusion, but perhaps very slightly lighter in body, yet still fuller than the first infusion. I was very impressed by this third infusion, and am confident that this tea will produce tasteful fourth and fifth infusions, and perhaps more.
The infused leaves have a uniform medium to dark green color. The aroma is vegetal and bakey, and slightly sweet. Some of the leaves are quite large, and there are many perfectly intact leaves. There was maybe one or two stems, at most, in this entire pile of tea. I would say the amount of leaf fragments is about 40%, with a majority of unbroken leaves. The leaves are very structurally durable after three infusions, certainly worthy of another infusion or two.
To be honest, before I had this specific Ti Kuan Yin, I was not very fond of this style of oolong. Others that I had were too light, or too vegetal, some tasting like cabbage broth. This one, however, could easily be ranked in my top ten teas. The Lin family did great work on this Ti Kuan Yin A+ grade oolong tea. If anyone is looking for a good birthday gift idea for me this year, I will just put you in contact with Linda Lin, and let her know I want a kilo for myself. If you order it now, it will arrive by my birthday. Thanks in advance for an awesome birthday gift! And thanks Linda Lin for giving me the opportunity to taste this exquisite Ti Kuan Yin.
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