Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teavivre: Nonpareil Anxi Yun Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

It is my birthday tomorrow, so as expected the subject of cake came up with my mom. Since this is the first year in a very long time that I am gluten free, this is a bit of a conundrum, do I want to try a gluten free version of a favorite cake or try something new? We were going to make a really amazing cheesecake (one of my favorite recipes) but the goat cheese in this part of the world for some reason costs an arm, leg, and a goat. After spending an hour wandering around the store trying to come up with a solution we finally gave up and chose some fudge. Life is complicated sometimes (kinda like my birth, sorry mom!)

Today's tea has nothing to do with cake or fudge, except that I think it tastes really good with either of those. Teavivre's Nonpareil Anxi Yun Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong Tea, a Fujian oolong which is made in the traditional manner of roasting (rather than the more vibrantly green ones that have become popular as of late) which requires a lot of extra work. The Yun Xiang (roasted) kind of Tie Guan Yin was the first oolong I fell in love with back when I was in high school working at a tea/coffee shop almost fifteen years ago. Memories! The aroma is richly roasted, as expected, with notes of char, roasted chestnuts, walnuts, pecans...this is a nutty tea! Finish that off with a distant orchid aroma and you have a very intense aroma, I do suggest sitting down if sniffing this tea.

Into my roasted oolong dedicated Yixing teapot the rolled leaves go for their bath. After their first steeping, the leaves let out a powerful blend of char and toasted nuts. The fire roasted chestnut aroma coming out of the leaves really makes me wish I had access to a fire place and free chestnuts (ah, those were the days.) The liquid has the same roasted nuts and char aroma but with caramelized sugar and a touch of flowers giving the tea a layer of sweetness.

That is a smooth start, smooth and rich, it begins with chestnuts and caramelized sugar, this transitions to black walnut, and lastly it finished with a touch of smoke and char. The mouth feel is almost velvety and thick, it is definitely a whole mouth tea.

Onto steep two! The aroma is very similar to the first, except someone upped the nut-ometer (this is a thing now, and it is a good thing) I mean holy moly that is a lot of roasted nuts, there are chestnuts, pecans, walnuts, and a nice finish of orchids. The taste does not disappoint, it starts out sweet, like caramelized sugar and flower nectar and builds into roasted nuts. The roasted nuts linger until it fades into char which stays as an aftertaste for a bit.

The third steep, well, I got lost in memories a bit. It is sweeter in both aroma and taste, there is still a strong roasted nut presence, but the sweetness and flower nectar have a much stronger presence. This tea is a much higher caliber than the first one I tried, or even the Yun Xiang Tie Guan Yin that was my everyday tea for many years, but it has the familiarity that always puts me in a nostalgic state. That moment when I first made the Tie Guan Yin and took my first sip, it was like something exploded in my brain, it was a moment of pure bliss that I will never forget, my tea awakening.


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