Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall 2010 Shan Lin Shi Oolong

This year's fall season in Taiwan is very particular and interesting. The first typhoon of the year hit the island 2 days ago, Sunday, September 19th. This means that there was no typhoon with excessive water during the whole summer. Secondly, the night temperatures have been unusually cool for the season. This kind of conditions are similar to winter weather and are very suitable for high mountain Oolong.

Cultivar: Luanze (qingxin) Oolong
Origin: Shan Lin Shi, Taiwan.
Elevation: 1500-1600 m
Hand picked on September 3rd, 2010
Process: light oxidation and rolled, and light roast.

Testing brew: 3 gr and 6 minutes in a white competition set.

The dry leaves have a fresh, dark green color with hints of yellow. Stems and white buds are visible. The fragrance is like young peach.

The brew is yellow, very clear with very little residue.

The open leaves include many buds. (See the circles in the picture on the left). The small and tender leaves are bitten by insects, a good sign of absence of pesiticides. The larger leaves are flexible (not too old) but very thick. The slightly red edges point to a slightly higher oxidation level.

The fragrance is light fruity, mostly peach and apricot with some traces of cereals and a hint of wasabi (!). The smell has the finesse and intensity of high mountain Oolong.

The taste is very well balanced, sweet with just a little fruity astringency on the tongue. Good concentration level. The mouth starts to salivate and the aftertaste keeps on unfolding, layer by layer. So sweet!

This Fall Shan Lin Shi Oolong is very good. Brewed with 'gongfu' in an appropriate teapot, it is even better! Lighter aromas come to life with shorter brewing times. Then, it can really be hard to distinguish its autumn origin. For those who long for the best deal on Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong, this is it! (Fall Oolongs are almost half the price of Spring harvests, and this year their quality is very close to winter Oolongs).


Alex Zorach said...

It fascinates me how many different varieties, cultivars, and regions there are of Taiwanese oolongs. I had not heard of this particular oolong before reading this post.

I like it when people write about these lesser-known varieties.

Evan Meagher said...

Glad to hear your approval of this tea. I bought some 2010 Shan Lin Shi from a shop in San Francisco over the weekend.

TeaMasters said...

This cultivar (and this region) is very popular and common in Taiwan. What is less usual is the season.

What makes tea so special is that each batch is different. Even from the same plantation, same season. A little change in weather will have an impact on the tea. So, 2 teas from Shan Lin Shi will share certain characteristics, but there will be also lots of differences.

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Mei Lan Hsiao said...

Dear Stephan,
Like your blog. Only one small suggestion, you should match the tea with correct tea ware, for example, the best tea ware for Oolong is Yixing tea pot. The taste from Porcelain Gan Wan is not same as ceramic tea ware.
Mei Lan Hsiao (www.tea-antwerp.be/blog)

TeaMasters said...

Dear Mei Lan,
Thanks for your comment! You are right that Yixing ware would be a better fit for this tea. However, if I chose porcelain, it's because I wanted to taste and test it with a neutral teaware. Tea judges and professional tasters always use porcelain to test a tea for the first time.
I wish you all the best on your tea way.

John-Paul said...

I was really surprised when I first smelled the dried leaf of this years fall lunaze from Shan Lin Shi. The aroma is pungeant, a bit fuity, and slightly sweet - similar to peaches n' cream. Even my 4 year old daughter was impressed! And the smell is not unnatural in any way, like many of the teas found at typical tea merchants, which can be laced with flavour and aroma enhancers. This tea is fresh, clean, and the slight roasting adds a welcomed depth and complexity to the brew. And for such a reasonable price too, it's hard to go wrong!