Sunday, February 23, 2014

Eco-Cha Artisan Teas: Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong, A Tea Review

I had quite the scare Friday night, I dropped my external hard drive and broke the casing, snapping the usb port off, meaning no access to my external hard drive. That is where I keep all my photos, because my computer has this weird quirk that if I try to edit, upload, or look at photos that are not on my external hard drive it causes my browser to crash. It drove me crazy, taking sometimes an hour just to add photos to a blog post, but there was an easy fix. I thought I would be able to get a replacement casing the next morning but Ben was too busy to take me to the store, and was not sure when he would have time. I was panicking because I wanted to update my blog, but he found time today and got me a spare casing in case of emergency. Hooray!

Today's tea has a delightfully long name, Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong by Eco-Cha Artisan Teas. This tea has a fascinating story behind it, its production depends on a small insect (a leaf hopper to be exact) biting the leaves of the tea causing the plant to have an immune response giving the tea a unique taste. This tea is slightly different than the other version of bug bitten tea, Oriental Beauty, by having the leaves tightly rolled rather than curled. The aroma is honey sweet with roasted almonds, sesame seeds, and pine nuts. It reminds me of a snack, specifically those delightful candies made from sesame seeds and honey that might be one of my favorite treats ever. This oolong is a great blend of sweetness and nuttiness, there is also a mild hint of peanut butter on the finish.

Brewing the leaves the aroma is still richly sweet but there are now sharp notes of fruit and osmanthus flowers with roasted nuts and a faint hint of lettuce. The liquid once poured off the leaves and out of the gaiwan after its short little steeping has floral notes and stewed veggies, specifically spinach though there is also notes of lettuce (though not stewed since who stews lettuce?) and the roasted nut aroma that has been present throughout.

The first steeping's taste is quite rich with a creamy, almost oily mouthfeel. The taste is an intensely floral blend on osmanthus and gardenia. The floral tastes fades to roasted pine nuts and sorrel in the middle, that fades to a wildflower honey taste that lingers in the mouth.

The second steeping's leaves have an incredibly floral aroma blending osmanthus and gardenia (so glad I bought osmanthus flower a while ago so I know what that smell is, it is very distinct!) The liquid is honey sweet with notes of osmanthus and roasted pine notes. The taste is intense! The mouth feel is dry in comparison to the first steep, the floral note is mostly osmanthus now, but the roasted nuts taste is the most prevalent. It fades to sorrel and ends on a faintly sweet note.
For some reason (I drank it too quickly) the photo I took of the liquid vanished, but I did get pretty leaves!
The third steeping has a crisp aroma of osmanthus and pine nuts, the liquid smells much the same as the leaves but with a touch more sweetness. The taste starts off with the roasted nuts and sorrel taste which fades to an osmanthus midtaste. There is an interesting finish blending honey sweet and slight sourness, similar to a citrus sourness but without the citrus taste. This tea is quite fascinating and complex, I have had many oolongs that have nutty, floral, or vegetal qualities, but never all of them at once and so distinct. Looks like being nibbled on by bugs really does make for a unique taste, this does not mean I will let mosquitoes bite me during the summer though.


  1. Oh my Tea Olive/osmanthus is so heavenly! I guess you were too young to remember but Grand-mama had them in Augusta and she has them again in SC. I always said I wanted to eat them or put them in a beverage. I must try this tea it sounds wonderful!

  2. You know that could be why it has such a familiar feel to it! I have a decent size amount of Osmanthus flowers that I can send you, it makes a great tea :)