Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 Spring Gao Shan Hung Shui Oolong

Luanze (qingxin) Oolong from Ali Shan (1200 meters elevation).
Hand harvested on April 5, 2009.

Hung Shui process: slightly higher oxidation and medium roasting.

The most famous Hung Shui Oolong comes traditionally from Dong Ding. However, it is an open secret that the winners of Lugu's Dong Ding competition in recent years come from High Mountain plantations. The higher altitude creates better conditions for the leaves (warm day, moisture from mountain mist and cool nights...). Therefore, a Gao Shan (high mountain) Hung Shui Oolong is something special that often aims for excellence.

What is a good Hung Shui Oolong?
It is like a good bottle of a grand cru classé from Bordeaux. You can enjoy it young, but you can also let it age many, many years. Hung Shui Oolong strikes the right balance between freshness and mellowness, between oxidation and roasting. Like when cooking a fish (or a juicy steak), it's important to find this balance and not overcook it.

You'll notice different colors depending on the cup I use.The tea still looks green in the qingbai cup, but golden in the ivory cups. This is a sign of the right balance.

What can I say about this tea?
It is so soft and sweet! And yet, it brings liveliness to the tongue and a long aftertaste. It is very delicate and refined. But it isn't weak and manages to make even the seventh brew interesting. (I won't say more to let you discover this beauty by yourself).

How best to brew it?
The roasting is very recent and requires some adjustments to our brewing. The challenge is to obtain a tea where the flavor of the roasting and the fresh leaves is well mixed and harmonious. The key adjustment is to pour the boiling water very slowly and carefully in the teapot and then let the leaves brew for a rather long time. The pouring out can then be done faster. Do this for each brew, including the first.
(Normal steps remain: preheating the teapot and cups, one layer of dry leaves on the bottom of the teapot).

My seventh brew (2 hours) reminded me of Ai Jiao Oolong. And the open leaf found its original shape and almost its original color!

6 comments:

Benoit said...

Hi stephane
I'm very wondering about your teabowl, specially the iron color on the bottom, on you last picture... Where does it come from (the bowl)?

Stephane said...

That's one of the Earth and Fire bowls. It was fired with wood for a week! All changes to the color happened naturally, due to the ashes and the fire. So that each bowl is unique.

Blaise said...

Bonjour!
Une question technique à propos des infusions qui durent très longtemps (2 h en l'occurrence pour la septième).
Faut-il constamment maintenir la liqueur à l'intérieur de la théière à la tempèrature à laquelle l'eau a été verssée?
Ou peut-on la laisser refroidir et la réchauffer au moment voulu?

Stephane said...

Blaise,
Pour ces infusions, je verse de l'eau bouillante (comme d'habitude) et je laisse simplement l'infusion se refroidir à température ambiante. Je ne réchauffe pas le thé à la fin.

K. said...

De toute façon, le thé pas très chaud est une autre manière de le découvrir cela permet de se focaliser sur des aspects généralement passés sous silence !

Et d'ailleurs évitez de boire vôtre thé brûlant (prenez soin de votre oesophage.

K.

Evan said...

I like the question-answer format you used for the headings of this post. It's a good way to chunk an article's content without seeming too formulaic.