Friday, November 18, 2016

Shan Lin Xi Zhuo Yan Oolong from Autumn 2016

Small dish by Kinya Ishikawa
This fall was unusually warm and humid in Taiwan, and my expectations to find good tea were lower than usual. But I wouldn't be blogging about tea for 12 years if it were so predictable! So, look what we've got here:

These qingxin Oolong leaves have been harvested one month ago, on October 18th, on Shan Lin Xi, at an elevation of 1500 meters.

Zhuo Yan means that these leaves are heavily bitten by jassids and other insects. It doesn't take the name concubine, because the oxidation level isn't high enough to qualify.
Woodfired bowl by David Louveau

This is a tea with a very conflicted personality. It had to fight off the insects, something that is quite unusual at this altitude. It should have become a standard high mountain Oolong with a green/yellow hue. Instead, the color is golden!
Jar by Petr Novak
After meeting with the ceramist Geneviève Meylan at an tea ware exhibition last weekend, I wished to bring my other potter friends together. So, for this special tea, I thought it would be a great idea to use their hand made wares since they convey a lot of character. In addition, fate, chance and a good Canadian tea friend sent me the above qinghua dish by the Japanese potter Kinya Ishikawa. This name sounded familar to me for a good reason: he used to be David Louveau's master!

The water color postcard is from the Canadian artist and teacher who triggered the inspiration for this fall Chaxi with her present. It deserved a central spot to express all my thanks to her.
Teaboat by Michel François
The closest tea I remember drinking is this wild concubine from Feng Huang from spring 2009. It was the same cultivar and the same oxidation level. The big difference is that this tea comes a high plantation on Shan Lin Xi. Its leaves are thicker and of much better quality, endurance and finesse.
Shan Lin Xi Oolong plantations
As you can see from the second picture above, I'm using very few leaves in my Yixing zhuni teapot. That's the best way to get all the leaves to unfurl properly and release all their aromas.
It can be simply described as warm mountain honey! Pure in taste, naturally fragrant and thick in the aftertaste. Sometimes it reminds me of competition grade Oriental Beauty (which have a lower oxidation than most OBs).
I don't want to bore you with more praise for this autumn tea! It's full of surprises. What started as bad news (rain, humidity, pest proliferation) ended up as the most exciting Oolong this year!
That's the kind of tea I like to to share with my (potter) friends from around the world!

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