Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

Today’s review will focus on the Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea. This oolong tea is from the fall of 2017 harvest season, and sourced from Nantou County in Taiwan.

This style of Taiwanese oolong is harvested from cultivar bushes of the same name, Si Ji Chun. This tea usually has a lighter oxidation level around 20%, and a light roast applied to the leaves during processing.

The name Si Ji Chun translates into “four seasons”, a reference to the continual growth of fresh leaves on this cultivar. The continual growth is due to the lower elevations that these bushes are usually grown at (about 500 meters or 1,600 feet above sea level). Unlike many of the cultivars grown and used in Taiwan, the Si Ji Chun does not have a TTES number designation, as this is a semi-wild bush that was not developed by the TTES (Taiwan Research and Experimentation Station).

Let’s get to the review…

20180112_094755
Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale forest green to pale dark forest green color, with the stems being a pale yellow-brown color. The leaves are tightly compressed into the common Taiwanese oolong ball shape. The blend consists of mostly unbroken, whole leaves still attached to stems, some large fragment and detached whole leaves, one or two mostly bare stems, and no buds. I expect to find a three to four leaf plucking standard. Based on the size of the compressed balls, I expect the leaves to not be as large as one may find in many other Taiwanese oolong styles. The color of the leaves indicates the light oxidation (about 20%), and a light roast. The smell is amazing, sweet, and fruity, with scents of brown sugar, baked apples, and cinnamon.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 30 seconds. 10 seconds of steep time was added to each subsequent infusion.

20180112_101737
Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light, pale green-yellow color. The aroma has attractive scents of baked apples, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of apple blossom (which intensifies as the number of infusions increases). The body is medium, with a juicy, silky texture. There is no bitterness whatsoever, and a very light astringency that nicely compliments the flavor. The taste has notes of baked apples, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple blossoms. The aftertaste carries the apple notes, which evolves into a refreshing apple blossom essence left on the breath.

20180112_121148
Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh dark forest green color. Most of the leaves have some reddish color showing on the edges, an indication of the oxidation level. The plucking standard is three leaves without a bud. There are a few detached, whole leaves in the mix, and a few large fragments (almost whole). There are also a few mostly bare stems. The leaves have a thin, soft leathery feel. Most of the whole leaves measure well under 2 inches (50 mm), but the largest one measured about 2.5 inches (63 mm). The leaves are fairly broad, with an appearance somewhat similar to the TTES 12 Jin Xuan cultivar leaves. The aroma carries the scents of wet apple blossom, and lighter scents of baked apples and brown sugar.

It had been a couple of years since I last experienced a Si Ji Chun Oolong. I don’t know if my tastes have developed so much over the years, or if that particular product just wasn’t of the same quality as this one, but this product from Taiwan M’s Tea is absolutely delicious. The apple character could be felt throughout this tea, and came in both the form of the fruit and blossom. Other than apple, the sweet tastes of brown sugar and caramel, blended with the apple and notes of cinnamon, made this tea a desert-like treat. The juicy, silky texture had a luxurious feel, and the slight touch of astringency perfectly complimented the flavor. The apple and apple blossom aftertaste and essence was a perfect finish. And, as usual with Taiwanese oolongs, the observation of the infused leaves was a good time. Overall, an excellent Taiwanese oolong with a lot of high quality infusions to offer.

Thank you to Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea for providing this sample of Si Ji Chun Oolong. Have a good weekend, everybody! Cheers!

 

Advertisements

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

I am in the process of organizing all of my samples from this year, and I must admit that it has been quite the task. I am going against my will, and simply organizing the samples by country of origin. Quite honestly, I did not have enough boxes to organize by region, which I would certainly prefer. On the bright side, I am finding some really great samples that came in small packets that simply shifted little by little to the bottom of other boxes.

This sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is one of those great samples that got lost in the mix for a while. Thankfully, it has resurfaced at a perfect time, as I have been desiring a Taiwanese oolong for a few weeks. I have been enjoying oolongs from Thailand and China, with the occasional Vietnam or Indonesia oolong, but my supply of Taiwan oolongs has become quite low, except for a few Jin Xuan products of varying quality. I love Jin Xuan, but I need a break!

The leaves of this Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea are harvested from the Si Ji Chun cultivar grown in Nantou County, Taiwan. Mountain Tea Company owns three tea gardens, one on Wushe Mountain. I cannot say with certainty whether the tea bushes that produced these leaves grow at the Wushe Mountain garden, or one of the other two. Regardless, all gardens are considered high mountain locations, thus I am expecting a very happy oolong experience out of this review. For more information on the Mountain Tea Company, please click here.

The sample packet has been opened, and despite the months that have passed since first receiving this sample, the scent of the dry leaves is remarkably sweet and fragrant. Let the journey begin…

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from light green to dark green. The leaves are in the compact, semi-ball shape, with few stems, but not as many as I commonly see in semi-ball oolongs. This fact indicates more time and effort by the manufacturer during production to remove the majority of stems. From the few stems that are present, I am seeing only two leaves on the pluck, and I expect very small buds to be present also. The scent of the dry leaves is truly incredible! Full, sweet scents of brown sugar, ripe peaches and apricots, gardenia flowers, honey, and sweet cream are all present. I am starting to be reminded of the reasons why Taiwanese oolongs are so expensive and yet worth every penny.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat the water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. I recommend cutting at least a full minute off the steep time for the second infusion (1:30 to 2:00 total steep time), and then 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the third.

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very bright greenish-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is phenomenal, with full scents of gardenia flowers, honey, stewed peaches and apricots, sweet cream, and carmelized sugar. The body is medium, with a clean, silky texture. The taste carries notes of peaches, apricots, gardenia flowers, sweet cream, honey, brown sugar, and a very light but noticeable hint of cooked spinach. The aftertaste is top notch, combining gardenia with sweet cream. As the aftertaste lingers, the sweet cream trails off and a hint of honeydew melon sets in, while the gardenia holds its potency. This is an incredible tea from start through the lingering finish!

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Many leaves display a rather dark shade of red on the edges. I would estimate the oxidation at 30%, give or take 5%. Most of the leaves are whole, with a few large fragments. Many leaves are totally disconnected from the stem. The leaves that are connected to the stem show a two leaf and tiny bud pluck. Only one stem had a third leaf. The leaves have a thicker, leathery texture, evidence that the Si Ji Chun cultivar is a close relative of the TieGuanYin cultivar. Most of the leaves are fairly young, but the few larger leaves are longer and fairly broad, not quite as broad as the Jin Xuan leaves, but close. The smell is again incredible, with full scents of gardenia flowers, peaches and apricots, brown sugar, sweet cream, and honey.

I am officially obsessed with Taiwanese oolongs again. The Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is fully responsible for reviving this obsession. Awe-inspiring from the scent of the dry leaves through the entire drinking experience and the inspection of the infused leaves, this tea is a phenomenal product that is easy to afford and appreciate. Although not everyone will taste the many notes that are listed above, any level of tea drinker will quickly notice that this tea is simply delicious. The lingering aftertaste will not let you forget just how good this product is.

Thank you to the management at Mountain Tea Company for providing this sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea. You can purchase some of this tea from Mountain Tea Company by clicking here.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens

Finally, back to tea reviews! I am looking forward to getting to more of these more often again, having been overwhelmed with other personal and business obligations for the past couple of months. I have some Darjeeling second flushes coming, as well as one Darjeeling specialty tea from Jungpana Tea Estate. I also have the quality season black teas from Uva Greenland Estate in Sri Lanka coming soon. To finish things off for my current sample supply, TeaVivre is sending some Chinese puer and white teas. I am also trying to find some exporters from Tanzania who can supply me with black, white, and green tea samples from that part of Africa. Basically, I have some interesting reviews coming up in the near future.

Also, all tea reviews going forward will be conducted according to professional standards. Higher water temperatures and longer steep times will be used to extract all of the character of the leaves. However, I will continue providing recommendations on water temperature and steep times for daily and normal consumption. I have decided to only write detailed descriptions of the first infusion to minimize redundancy in the posts. However, if I do prepare subsequent infusions, the photos will be posted, along with any noteworthy changes in character. You will also notice watermarks on my photos now. After having some trouble with my photos being used without permission or proper credit being given, I was forced to add watermarks.

Now that the updates and disclaimers have been given, let’s get to a review. The subject of today’s review is the Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens. Rather than retype information about Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens, click here to find all of the information and photos that I have on The Tea Journeyman Shop Tea Garden’s page. I am proud to offer two oolong teas from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens at the shop, the Thea Kuan Imm and the Jing Shuan (Jin Xuan or Milk Oolong).

The sample packet has been opened, and a welcoming sweet scent is instantly detectable. Let the journey begin…

Four Seasons Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Four Seasons Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale light green to dark brownish-green color. Leaves are mostly whole, with few large fragments and very small portion of crumbs. Leaves are in semi-ball shape. A coarse pluck of three to four leaves with stem intact is assumed. Oxidation appears to be in the 50% area, give or take 10%. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of brown sugar, honey, and dry tree fruit.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for four minutes.

Normal at home preparation will be one teaspoon of leaves (about 3 grams) per six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. Water temperature should be 190°F to 195°F (88 to 90°C). Infusion time should be 1:30 to 2:00 minutes on the first infusion, then 1:00 minute on the second infusion, with 0:15 to 0:30 seconds being added to subsequent infusions. Three to five quality infusions can be expected.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
Four Seasons Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent, with few fine and coarse particles. The aroma is quite powerful and sweet, with scents of honey, nectarines, light brown sugar, and a light floral scent that I will compare to lavender. The body is medium, with a lively, mouth filling texture. The taste has notes of honey, nectarines, light brown sugar, and lavender. The aftertaste is persistent, and the notes of lavender and nectarine are very pronounced for an impressive amount of time. The aftertaste honestly reminded me of that of a bite of fresh nectarine. Very impressive!

Four Seasons Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
Four Seasons Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion continued to impress by being highly aromatic and flavorful. Taste was slightly lighter, but nicely balanced. No negative notes on the second infusion.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
Four Seasons Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion is also quite sweet in aroma and bright in color. The taste is lighter, but still has plenty of flavor. The aftertaste continues to impress with a lingering floral character. No negative notes on the third infusion.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color, with reddish edges. Many leaves appear to have edges that have been bitten by insects, which helps explain the honey aroma and taste. Most of the leaves are whole, with some very large fragments, and few smaller fragments. Pluck is coarse and ranges from two to three leaves with stem intact, some with small buds attached. The leaves appear to be of either the TTES 17 (Chin Shin) or TTES 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar, or perhaps a blend of the two. I am siding more with the Chin Shin. Even though some of the leaves are more broad like Jin Xuan leaves, the aroma and taste lacked the creamy (milky) characteristics that Jin Xuan is known for. The aroma of the infused leaves has scents of nectarine, light honey, and light floral.

Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens produces some truly high end oolong teas, in my opinion. I have had several other “four seasons” oolongs before, all from Taiwan, but I do not recall having such pleasant memories of any of those teas like I have of the Four Seasons Oolong from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens. I have been told by others who are more familiar with the tea gardens of Thailand that Thai Tea Suwirun is good, but there are better tea gardens in Thailand. If that is true, I beg for more information on these other gardens! I believe they are out there, and if they are better than Thai Tea Suwirun, then I am in for some very pleasurable moments of tea sampling in the future! Not to take anything away from Thai Tea Suwirun, as they always leave me with a satisfied smile on my face. If I never find another garden in Thailand, I will be perfectly fine with my supply coming from Thai Tea Suwirun!

Thanks to the management at Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens for including this generous packet of Four Seasons Oolong Tea! Cheers!