Over the past three months, I have reviewed a number of Jin Xuan (milk) wulong products from various companies. Today’s review is another Jin Xuan wulong, but it is quite different. This Amber Oolong from Mountain Tea has an oxidation of 30%, and a 50% roast. Although I do not have a specific percentage of roasts on the other Jin Xuan teas that I have reviewed, I can tell you that they are nowhere near 50%. I know the tastes and characteristics of “greener” Jin Xuan teas quite well, so I am excited to see how the higher oxidation and roasting levels will affect the attributes of the aroma and flavor.
The Jin Xuan tea bushes are grown in the Wushe Mountains of central Taiwan, at an average elevation of 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) about sea level.
The sample packet has been opened, and the smell is quite intriguing … Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform hazey brownish-tan, roasted color. The leaves are in the standard semi-ball shape. Some leaves have a stem attached. Leaves appear to be mostly unbroken, but there are some crumbs present from roasting. The aroma is quite complex, with different scents appearing with each inhale. At first, scents of char, wood, and cocoa are most noticeable. With additional inhales, scents of baked apples, light brown sugar, and cinnamon can be felt.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 190°F (90°C). Leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a light amber (orange with a brown tint) color, clear and transparent. The aroma is bakey, with scents of toast, fruit juice, and a light floral character. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy feel. The taste reminds me of a light liquid form of hot apple pie, having notes of baked butter, apples, light brown sugar, and a very light spice (cinnamon). The aftertaste is bakey and floral, and lingering. I was sad to get to the bottom of this cup. The taste of apple was so obvious that I thought I was mistaking another taste. Additional infusions produced the same general results.
The second infusion produced a liquor that had a much darker amber color. The aroma was juicy, to best describe it, and retained the toasty character, slightly floral. The body remained medium. The taste was bolder than the first infusion, and reminded me more of apple cider than apple pie. It was juicy, and had a noticeable spice (cinnamon) to it. I liked the first infusion better, but this was very interesting.
The third infusion produced a shade of amber color that was slightly lighter than the second infusion, but darker than the first. The aroma remains toasty and juicy, with light floral. The taste has balanced out nicely, having the baked apple, spice, and light brown sugar notes. The feel is more lush than the first infusion, but not as bold as the second. The third infusion has been the best of the three, in my opinion. The bakey and floral aftertaste has been retained through all three infusions.
Although I did not bother taking photos of additional infusions, I did infuse these leaves three more times before retiring them. Even in the sixth infusion, this tea provided a great aroma and taste experience.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper color. Most of the leaves are full, with some tears or holes in the leaves due to processing. Some stems have up to three leaves attached. The leaves certainly have the characteristics of the Jin Xuan cultivar, being long and broad. The aroma is roasty, with slight wood, spice, and floral notes.
On a quick side note, I used the remaining product in the sample packet in a professional ceramic tasting set, used purified water instead of filtered tap water, and extended the brew time on the first infusion to two minutes. I ended up getting completely different results, with the aroma and taste being mostly roasty, with toast, slight apple, and floral notes.
I may have to order another sample (or more) of this Amber Oolong just to see if I can replicate the results from the review above. Honestly, if that taste can be replicated, then this is an instant favorite of mine. I have never had a tea, especially a roasted variety, with such an obvious apple taste. Rest assured, this taste did not come from other sources, as I eat maybe one apple every couple of months. Whether the taste reminded me of apple cider or apple pie, I found it truly intriguing and tasteful. My greatest fear with this product is that I will not be able to mimic these results in future brewing. Regardless, this experience was great, and I look forward to having it in the future. Thank you to Mountain Tea for providing the sample. Cheers!