Monday, January 5, 2015

Phoenix Herb Company: Four Seasons Spring Oolong, A Tea Review

I am pretty sure Ben's computer doesn't like me, even though I am using it right now, I bet it is just seething with annoyance that someone other than Ben is using it. All day it has been dropping the internet like it is dial-up and there is only one phone line in your house, and now it is refusing to read my camera's SD card. So the tea I had planned to review today has to be changed, which is a pity because I was rather excited to go on a ramble about it...and show off my tea desk after I redid it. Silly machines and their problems, maybe I offended Optimus Prime in a past life or something?

Computer woes aside, there is always tea, even if I did have to reshuffle my schedule a bit (not that I have the most strict tea schedule since I like writing about a tea that inspires me that day) and this one is from tea shop right near my house (at least my Kansas City house) Phoenix Herb Company, specifically their Four Seasons Spring Oolong! This tea hails from Mingjing, Taiwan, and is plucked in the spring, though this specific tea can be plucked during all the seasons while having a consistent flavor, much like it was plucked during spring. The aroma of the leaves is a refreshing blend of floral, green vegetation with a tiny bit of a baked finish. It starts with hyacinth, transitions to growing things, and a tiny bit of sesame seeds, though not toasted ones, just fresh sesame seeds. It gives it that touch of sweetness to a spring scented tea.

So I decided to brew this one in the yixing teapot I got my mom for Christmas (and then liked it so much I got myself one for Pu erh) and make the two of us some tea, that might be what I miss most about being in PA, always having tea with my mom...but I digress...brewing the leaves brings out a touch of nutty chestnut, but really what comes wafting out of the teapot is a springtime bouquet of hyacinth, orchids, and green vegetation. It reminds me of walking around Kauffman Gardens during spring, so it is quite lovely. The liquid, having been freed from the teapot, is a blend of chestnuts, fresh vegetation, and a touch of minerals. Of course there is a blast of floral, more like fresh blooming flowers than perfume, primarily hyacinths and a touch of lily.

One of my favorite things about Four Seasons (or Si Ji Chun) Oolong is how approachable it is, usually on the cheaper end of green Taiwanese Oolongs, this makes it good for everyday sipping. It is also not a super powerhouse of flavors making it, again, good for everyday sipping. it is an Oolong I have found myself drinking while painting or gaming because it tastes great, but you don't get overwhelmed by its presence. This Four Seasons is no exception, the mouthfeel starts out creamy and smooth and stays that way throughout the first steep. The taste is gently nectar sweet and very floral, though in a mellow drinking distant flower aroma rather than a bottle of perfume. There is a bit of a mineral taste at the finish, like fresh spring water.

The aroma of the second steep is still quite floral, a nice blend of hyacinth and flower nectar, with an added bit of wildflower honey thrown in at the end. The second steep is much like the first, starting out floral and sweet, but along side the hyacinth there is a little touch of spicebush. This transitions to fresh vegetation and growing things, with a finish of mineral at the end. It leaves a subtle honey sweetness as an aftertaste that lingers.

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