Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alishan Guei Fei Oolong

New tea flavors are rarely natural nowadays. So let's celebrate this small and cute green insect: Jacobiasca formosana Paoli. Its bites have first helped create the Oriental Beauty Oolong. More recently, farmers in Lugu (Dong Ding) have created the Guei Fei (Concubine) Oolong in Nantou county's lower elevation plantations by welcoming this insect. Now, even high mountains seem to catch up to this trend!

One of the first benefits for tea drinkers is the absence of pesticides on these plantations. But the main benefit is the appearance of a new tea fragrance. Let's see how this plays out on high mountain Oolong:

Cultivar: Luanze/qingxin Oolong
Origin: Alishan, Taiwan
Elevation: 1500 meters
Harvested by hand on May 20th, 2013
Process: light oxidation and light to medium slow roast.

Brewed in a Qing dynasty (Qianlong reign) Yixing zisha hexagon shape teapot,
with filtered water boiled in a silver kettle.
And poured in Dehua porcelain 'dragon' cups.
1. Sight

For high mountain Oolong, the dry leaves don't appear particularly big. The reason for this can be found in the spent leaves (see below), or even in the white tips that appear in the dry leaves: this tea has been harvested particularly young and contains lots of buds.

The dark green color of the dry leaves is a sign of the tea's Hungshui Oolong type of roasting.
The brew comes out golden, clear and shiny. It's much more yellow than a spring Alishan normally is. This color is the result of a slightly higher oxidation and the roasting.

2. Fragrances.

The dry scents are quite complex: there's the freshness of a high mountain Oolong, the sweet, intoxicating feeling of a light roast and a fruity note.
The brew's smell reminded me of my winter 2008 Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding. It has this distinctive honey-like smell produced by these small insect bites. I could smell it even before tasting the tea!
3. Taste
 
Refined and complex. On the one hand it feels light and fresh like high mountain Oolong, but than it feels also powerful and deep, fruity and dark, cooling and warm at the same time. There are many layers in the aftertaste. A lot of sweetness, but there can also be some astringency or even bitterness.

These leaves are quite difficult to brew. I don't recommend them for beginners. This is also a reason I chose to use an Yixing zisha teapot. It helps to well mix the tea's freshness and roast. My brewing advice is to use fewer leaves than usual, because these high mountain Oolong leaves are very concentrated and still very new. And for your first pours, be very gentle with the leaves: pour the just boiled water very slowly.
The high mountain Guei Fei is very temperamental. It is true to its name: it will reward you with refined pleasures if you treat it with attention, like an emperor treats the concubine he wants to spend the night with. It wants your full attention and be treated with glamour!

I could no less than prepare this full scale Chaxi. The several colors (black, orange and green) represents the many layers of aromas that unfold and combine in these leaves. Some are dark, some fruity and some fresh. The white 'pillow' is like a cloud on which the teapot rests. It's high in the mountain, close to heaven!

The potter Michel François created 'pillow' and also this big celadon bowl. Its curves are gracious and generous like a beautiful woman. The skin surface of the bowl's glaze is soft and tender... like a concubine that knows no taboos!...
The shiny chatuo are the modern bling we have come to expect for an extravagant, extraordinary occasion.
Plant, jar, ever and brazier all point up and reach for the sky.
This modern era qinghua porcelain jar is handpainted with a shan shui (mountain and water) scenery. The mountains appear like in a dream, far away. With this high mountain Guei Fei, we are coming a little bit closer! 
The jar also serves to rest and mellow this top quality tea. With such great leaves (and buds) with this nice roast, I have high hopes for the aging potential of this High Mountain Guei Fei Oolong.
2 lids to close this qinghua jar tightly

2 comments:

Michel said...

Happy you finally got this piece!
So many tried to get their hands on that one.

Your write is a real honor, you picked up upon the 'Sensual' ..

Stephane said...

Michel,

Merci, merci beaucoup pour ce bol et toutes les autres pièces dans ton paquet. Le déballage fut comme Noël! Bien que je l'ai vu en photo avant l'achat, il y a toujours une surprise et une différence quand on a la pièce en main. Heureusement, avec un artiste comme toi, je ressens moins cela comme un risque de déception, mais comme une opportunité de ravissement par l'imprévu de la vraie beauté.

Je n'ai pas voulu être trop explicite dans l'article, mais ici, je vais me lacher. Il y a quelques jours, l'actualité m'a fait découvrir Zahia. J'avais déjà entendu son nom, mais je n'avais jamais vu de photo ou de vidéo d'elle. Or, ton vase, il me fait vraiment penser à sa cambrure au bas des reins: le cul de Zahia! lol.

Ah oui, encore une petite précision: mon bol n'est pas à vendre. Adressez-vous directement à Michel François si vous en voulez aussi un!