Recently on Steepster, new company Green Terrace Teas offered samples of three of their teas in exchange for reviews. I of course jumped on it like it was the last Furby on Christmas Eve in 1998, of course when the nice little vacuum sealed packaged arrived trying to decide which one to try first was the hard part. I closed my eyes and picked at random, coming out with Shan Lin Xi Premium High Mountain Oolong, a Taiwanese Oolong grown high in the mountains (1,800 meters to be exact) of Nantou, Taiwan. After my initial glee at opening the vacuum package (the air rushing back in always amuses me immensely) it was time for sniffing. The aroma is a very fresh smelling blend of buttery, a tiny bit of sesame seed nuttiness, mountain vegetation, sweet orchids, and a bit of fresh cream. It smells rich and clean, I do not say that often but the aroma reminds me of clean mountain air, which I should mention is a smell that I greatly miss.
It is no real surprise that this tea is going into my gaiwan, after its initial dance with water the aroma is less nutty and almost all floral. There are notes of orchid and honeysuckle with a surprising finish of spicebush. The liquid, liberated from its soggy leaf friends, is quite sweet! There are notes of honey, sweet cream, a touch of floral and a finish of sesame seeds.
Time for the first steep, and what a light and delicate one it is! It starts out with a very smooth, buttery mouthfeel which matches the sweet creamy taste. This fades to alpine vegetation and then it is like a small explosion of flowers in my mouth. The finish is sweet flower nectar, orchids, and honeysuckle. As with most first steeps of oolongs, I look forward to seeing what kind of journey the leaves will take me on.
The aroma on the second steep is intense! There is such a strong floral presence that I feel like I have stuck my nose in bouquet of fresh flowers, there are notes of hyacinth, orchid, honeysuckle, and a tiny bit of spicebush. Starting with the mouthfeel (because that really does seem to be the first thing I notice when sipping) it is smooth, a mix between buttery and velvety, it fills up the mouth. The taste on this steep is quite rich, it starts with a strong alpine vegetation note, this transitions to a gentle sweetness and floral notes. After that there is a slightly mineral finish that reminds me of rainwater. The aftertaste is sweet, like honey, and lingers.
Third steeping time, the aroma is not as intense, but it is a little more varied. There are still strong notes of orchid, but now we have alpine vegetation and a bit of minerals. The aroma of this tea has a great 'transportation' effect, it very much so reminds me of being in the mountains in summer, sitting near a spring, enjoying the blooming flowers. The taste is smooth and buttery, with strong hints of green. It reminds me of fresh growing things. The finish is mineral and a touch of sweet. The mouthfeel this time starts out smooth and fades to a mild dryness at the finish.
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