Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Shan Lin Xi high mountain oolong

The light yet persistent aftertaste of this high mountain oolong from Shan Lin Xi brings to mind the light, fluttery movements of a butterfly. This morning, I brewed this tea in a porcelain pot for five. The large volume ensures sufficient room for leaf unfurling. To highlight the fresh and jade green qualities of high mountain oolongs, I chose a celadon dish to impart an aspect of green vitality that connects us to mother nature.

Like a chameleon, subtle notes of grass, fleshy fruits and flowers greet my nose. It is not possible to describe the taste profile precisely. The jade-coloured liquid was pleasant on the tongue and throat. A slight warmth in my stomach presents itself. These are little signs - easily overlooked - that bear testament to the high quality of this tea.

Preparing a two-part video for this tea seems a nice way of introducing this tea to my audience. In the vidoe links above are my proposed steps for brewing this tea, and as you will later notice in the second video, a cloth coaster was introduced to the setting to reduce the dripping effect from my teapot. Teaware arrangement from my intepretation can be very fluid but must not interfere with my hand movements. Keeping the process harmonious and calm is also one of the many things I aim for when refining my gong-fu cha techniques.

The opened leaves after the first infusion were soft and very supple. I prepared four satisfying infusions from the amount of leaves you see in the first photo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Oolong preparation two-part video

"I feel clean" was what my Japanese friend commented after tasting Taiwanese high mountain oolong for the first time. She was also surprised that the taste profile overlaps with Japanese green tea brewed at lower temperatures of 70 - 80 degree Celsius resulting in an umami note. Later, I told her that this was not green tea, rather semi-fermented oolong that adds the extra touches of flowers and fruits.

You will find answers to good questions like how much oolong tea to use, at which temperatures to brew and for how long in this this video.

I always use freshly boiled water and start with the first infusion where 40 - 50% of the total soluble materials are released. This is why it makes very little economical sense to rinse teas especially when you are certain of their high quality.

In this second video, I show how the opened leaves look like and this is something that we can aim for when improving the technique of brewing ball-shaped oolong. Doing so will ensure full flavour release.

With this winter high mountain oolong from Ali Shan, I was able to brew it at least four times.  I enjoy starting the day with a sip of light oolong teas. My breath is cleansed, stomach nicely primed with no hunger pangs. The aftertaste can stretch beyond half an hour with the more powerful oolongs from Da Yu Ling or Li Shan. I am quite happy with my 'liquid breakfast' and do not want to spoil the taste in my mouth. Give it another few hours and I should be ready for lunch!