Monday, July 16, 2007

Spring Oolongs Arrival!

After 3 years of regular blogging, it seems that my month long break has surprised more than a few regular readers. I hadn't planned such a long interruption. After a move to a new apartment, my family took a common vacation in Greece (see the picture: we were in the middle of olive fields). But then an additional 2 weeks of forced blog rest happened as I struggled with Chunghwa Telecom to install an Internet connection to my new apartment, and then realized my computer was beyond repair and had to be replaced (which is usually very quick in Taiwan, except if you want legal software from Windows on a weekend...). All things are well now and I'm rested and happy to be back sharing my tea experience.

Before all this happened, I made a trip to Central Taiwan to source this year's spring Oolongs. I plan to write more detailed reviews of most of these teas, but since we're already mid July, it's probably a good idea to make a first general review of my new selection. Anyway, most teas are 'old friends' that I had selected last year:

The Gao Shan Chas:
- Da Yu Ling luanze Oolong: this year, it comes from a higher plantation than last year (2400 meters). It has a slightly stronger oxidation than most Da Yu Lings and therefore a fruitier and stronger aroma. Harvest date: May 20.

- Li Shan luanze Oolong. Also a higher elevation than last year (2200 meters). Here also I chose one with a slightly higher oxidation. I especially feel that this fruitier taste fits Lishan very well (Lishan, pear mountain, is also famous in Taiwan for the apples and pears that grow there). Harvest date: May 3rd.

- Shan Lin Shi luanze Oolong. This one comes from the same field from Long Feng Xia as last year (1650 meters). For this Gao Shan Oolong, I found that the lower oxidation was the best. That means that this one is lighter, more flowery and more typical for the current taste of Gao Shan Oolong. Harvest date: April 24.


Dong Ding Oolongs from Feng Huang (same farmer, luanze Oolong leaves):
- 'Classic' Dong Ding: Compared to Gao Shan Cha, a classic Dong Ding Oolong has a stronger oxidation AND a medium roasting. Harvest date: April 20.
- 'Fuity' Dong Ding: Luanze Oolong with a stronger oxidation, but little roasting. Harvest date: April 18.
- 'Strong roast' Dong Ding: This stongly oxidized Oolong has also a stronger roasting, which gives more body, warmth and strength to the tea. Harvest date: April 22.
- Guei Fei Cha from Summer 2006. This one improved well over the 2005 Guei Fei. I chose one harvested late, on July 21. It has been bitten by insects a lot, producing a higher oxidized Oolong, smooth with some fruit and honey taste. It also has a medium roast, which gives it additional length.
See also here for my article about this tea, last year.

- Mingjian's Si Ji Chun Oolong: low oxidized and flowery. I call it an ersatz for Gao Shan Cha: an everyday light Oolong. Harvest date: April 20.

Then, I also selected 2 more roasted Oolongs:
- A Spring 2004 roasted Oolong from Shan Lin Shi (same field as the one above). The roasting of this Gao Shan Cha gives it a very similar flavor and taste as a classic Dong Ding Oolong. But because the leaves are coming from a higher altitude, the result is more elegant. It's quite special, because few people will have the courage to roast such a high quality Gao Shan Cha. If the heat is too strong, the tea will be ruined.

- 1991 Feng Huang Dong Ding. From the same fields as the 2007s. I tried younger Oolongs (1993, 1995, 1996), but found out that the 'old' taste only starts to appear with this Oolong. This reminded me of Teaparker telling us that an Oolong is considered old after 20 years approximately. At 16 years, this Oolong gives an interesting view of how new fragrances appear with aging.

(A tea field for Guei Fei Cha in Feng Huang, Dong Ding).

5 comments:

SoL said...

bonjour Stéphane ! sympa ta carte postale de Grèce, cela semble nous rapprocher un peu de te savoir un pied en Europe le temps des vacances !

Pour ma part, je suis heureuse de te retrouver ; j'ai remarqué aussi que la pause lecture de Teamasters m'a permis d'appréhender autrement mes dégustations de thé, disons que je me sens plus "responsable" des impressions ressenties puisque un peu moins influencée par la lecture de tes notes pendant un mois. L'annonce du "programme" de tes notes à venir est chouette, je suis à l'écoute, merci et bon été !

Anonymous said...

Bonjour Stéphane, j'espère que tu as passé d'excellentes vacances bien méritées !
Tu nous manquais ! ....
Je continue à savourer tes thés en pensant aux prochains que que j'attends impatiemment de découvrir ... Je t'avoue que j'arrive au bout de mes Pu Er : je les affectionnent, tout partculièrement, le mâtin et mon "cher et tendre" les a adoptés avec beaucoup de plaisir !
En attendant tes précisions avant d'effectuer ma commande, un bon retour parmis nous et comme le dit sol "je suis à l'écoute".
Mille merci.
Hélène

Julian said...

Stephen

In your opinion, is autumn (or winter as taiwanese might call it) better than spring?

The traditional chinese view is that spring tea tastes better but autumn tea is definitely more fragant.

although some experts will differ.

Spring tea is most abundant. Tea plant produces less leaves at the end of the year autumn.

What is your experience?

Stephane said...

Julian,

I generally find that winter Oolongs are 'drier', ie they give more a dry feeling in the mouth and throat. So, they also have a longer, stronger aftertaste than spring oolongs.
Spring Oolongs, on the other hand, are lighter and bring more flowery scents with them.

I don't think it's possible to say which is best. Both these seasons can give you very good (or very bad) results. One season is harvested over several weeks. There are always good days and bad days included, which will result in batches ranging from excellent to poor.

To some extent, it also depends what you are looking for in the tea. I generally pefer teas with long aftertaste, but this year's spring Oolongs have really this bursting of scents that make spring Oolongs so enjoyable. I like them a lot.

Julian said...

Hey, very interesting. Thanks.

:)