Saturday, November 29, 2014

Teavivire: Nonpareil Taiwan Li Shan Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

Time to rejoin the real world, with much regret. I have been an overstuffed, lazy, derping in front of the TV watching stuff or gaming, lump. In order to celebrate my return to normalcy post holiday, I decided to play with rocks! I went through my mom's (she gave me a few really pretty pieces, including a very dirty Savannah River Agate) and I collected a few of my old gemstones I had left with her for safe keeping. I then spent several hours researching the Carolina Bay's geology and formation, spoilers, it is really cool.

So, enough about my nerding out about rocks (though don't be surprised if they start showing up in my photos) it is time for some Oolong! Today's tea is Teavivre's Nonpareil Taiwan Li Shan Oolong Tea, one of Taiwan's Gao Shan (high mountain) teas grown at an altitude of 2,000ft on Li Shan. This specific tea is called a Gao Leng (woo, I learned a new tea phrase!) meaning high (I knew that much) and cold, referring to the environment the tea is grown in, this in theory makes the tea sweeter and more valuable. The about section on the website has a lot of neat info about Taiwanese teas, including which ones are grown at different heights, difference between high and low mountain Oolong, and so forth. Li Shan is not the highest grown tea, but it is certainly up there. The aroma, well, often I find myself going ga-ga over the roasted oolongs, but wow, when I have a dance with a Gao Shan I wonder, why did I ever get seduced by roasted tea? It is so sweet and so very floral, like a bouquet of honeysuckles, hyacinth, orchids, and lilies, it is intensely floral and at the same time very delicate, no worry of being blasted in the face by a perfume shop. There are also notes of chestnut and cream with a very sweet nectar finish.

I should point out that I am still not on the best terms with the gaiwan I am using for this tea review, it is a great gaiwan from a functionality standpoint (or I would have smashed it) but it is so not ok visually, grumble grumble. May I will give it a full review tomorrow, spoilers, it won't be pretty...but I digress. The aroma of the steeped leaves is so immensely sweet, I want to hug it with my nose but that would be just odd. Again with the flowers, it is a blend of honeysuckle as the dominant, hyacinth, lilac, and spicebush. This transitions to a bit of creaminess and honey with a finish of chestnut. The aroma of the liquid (hehe, my notes in my notebook are crooked, always a good sign) is as expected very sweet, a delicate blend of flowers, primarily honeysuckle, osmanthus, and spicebush, this transitions to a sweet finish of chestnut.

First steeping sipping time! First steeps always excite me, they are like starting a story or journey, you get an idea of how things are going to go, but there is room to grow and evolve. The mouthfeel is quite smooth, it coats the mouth and fills it with floral, sweet, happiness. This steep is pretty mellow, a nice sweet nectar start that blooms into hyacinth, orchids, and honeysuckles. The finish is a delicate honey sweetness with a lingering floral note.

The road goes ever on and on, ok, no...Gao Shan is not really a hobbit tea, it is more a tea you would expect the Sindar who dwelt in Gondolin to sip while writing poetry about how they are better than everyone else. The aroma is again, quite yum, the floral aroma has ramped itself up from delicate to intense, there are notes of spicebush, honeysuckle, orchid, osmanthus, hyacinth. So many flowers! There are also notes of chestnuts and a touch of creaminess. And yeah, the taste is sweet and floral, as expected, where the previous steep was flower nectar, this is full on flower essence and creamy chestnut sweetness. You also get a little bit of green fresh vegetation. The aftertaste is floral honey that lingers for quite a while.

Ok, quick question, have any of you ever licked the condensation of the lid of a gaiwan after steeping tea, if you have not, really I suggest doing it because it will be the best thing ever. So super sweet and like the essence of tea distilled into tiny droplets. The aroma is so much flowers, really it smells like a pile of springtime air while visiting a fancy garden, it is so sweet and full of flower nectar that I swear I can smell spring time. The taste is crazy mellow, very smooth and floral with lots of honey and chestnut, this transitions to a touch of mineral and a finish of spicebush that lingers for a while.

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