Saturday, October 19, 2013

Curated tea #1 - Red Water 'Hong Shui' Oolong

Traditional ball-styled oolong look and feel very supple to touch.

This medium roasted oolong is representative of Taiwanese oolongs. With the name Hong Shui, meaning red water, it is thought to produce a very red brew after infusion. However, this isn't so. The main producing areas (but not all, as in this case) of red water oolong are located in Dong Ding, Nantou County. During the process of manufacturing, special attention is paid to the precise level of leaf fermentation - a highly-skilled technique!

For my customers, I have selected a red water oolong from the mountainous Shan Lin Xi area, located at roughly 1.5 km above sea level. My wish is to combine high mountain scents and  freshness with a gently roasted tea that not only tastes sweeter but can keep well. Roasting is such a process that reduces the overall tea's moisture content while concentrating the leaves' sugar content and improving the overall taste and aftertaste.  The joy of storing such roasted teas and enjoying them in years to come also deserves special mention! Unfortunately, the strong demand for light fragrant unroasted tea in the last 10 years at least has made it less appealing for tea producers to invest time, money and effort into the 'hong shui' process, resulting in fewer sourcing options. When choices are limited, consumers shortchange themselves by closing the doors to many pre-existing opportunities of tasting diversely processed teas. 

A glowing purple- red zisha pot after a hot douse of water

Opening this bag of oolong for the first time really lifted my mood that day. The leaves smelled pleasantly floral and deceptively light I would have thought that this is the unroasted version of Shan Lin Xi oolong.
Leaf appearance: Nice tightly rolled traditional ball style oolong, with yellow brown stems and relatively green leaves. The tightly rolled leaves also carry a particular sheen on their surface which makes it look particularly mouth-watering and secretly raised my expectations. 

Infusion: Autumn in my tea cup! The brew's green-ish yellow appearance seems to hint at freshness despite this being a roasted tea. For tea saucers, I picked old Japanese bronze pieces to add to the autumnal atmosphere and symbolise the roasted nutty undertone of this tea which is not at all obtrusive to the greener notes present. Also included is a gold kimono sash to impart a luxurious feel that reflects the taste of this tea.

Roasted yet almost green  and very tender leaves!
Taste profile: A medium, slow roasted tea that suprises the palates with its fresh high mountain characteristic accompanied by flavours of baked fruit layers - notes of plum, apricot, peach and honied hazel move from my throat to nose. These flavours develop at the tongue's root alongside a slight sappy but delicate ending. A tea of superb character & contrast!

No comments:

Post a Comment