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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!