Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nannuoshan: Tie Guan Yin 1993, A Tea Review

I am a giant slacker, I should have written about this tea yesterday like I planned, but by the time I got home at 9 o'clock last night, I was so pooped that I just flopped on the bed and refused to move. Well, that and Ben has been a total computer hog with his play-testing work (and researching a new game he is interested in as well) but that is ok. Yesterday was a blast, I went out for lunch with Ben and his parents and then we went to Costco where I got several things, but most excitingly I got the most massive jar of Kalamata olives, it was epic! I cannot wait to cut loose on them, it will be like eating squishy, purple, sour, potato chips. Other than lunch and shopping I got to catch up with an old friend while painting at Tabletop, so life is good as usual.

Today is the last of the teas from Nannuoshan, my adventure comes to an end with an aged tea, a Tie Guan Yin from 1993, that was a long time ago! It was an awful year for me, if I can remember my timeline correctly (and I know my mom, who always reads my blogs, will correct me if I am wrong) 1993 was the year I almost died from pneumonia, oops. I am hoping that a Tie Guan Yin, THE Oolong that taught me that tea could be art and not just a drink, will change my opinion about this year. Unlike other aged Oolongs I have had, this one has only been baked the once, back in 1993, so it is not one of those teas that is relying on its roasted taste, rather it is relying on the tea itself to shine through. The dark leaves are quite lovely, like a mix between curly and balled, they almost look tumbled, the aroma is quite fascinating, and certainly not like any TGY I have ever sniffed. Blending notes of dried peaches, fruit wood, distant flowers, spices, and a rich woody wine cask aroma that adds a level of headiness to the leaves. At the very finish there is a sharp, nectar sweet, note of lychee that lingers a bit.

Into the pot it goes! The now soggy leaves blend notes of dried peaches and apricots, woodiness, and the distinct smell of a wine cask. It is woody and sweet, and I really like that wine note, I wish I knew more about wine so I could say exactly which one it reminds me of, I can say it is a slightly spicy red one. The brandy colored liquid (a very lovely color, reminds me of a sunrise) is woody and fruity, with distinct notes of peaches and spice.

The first steep is a think of beauty, do not go into this tea expecting it to be like any other teas, it is unlike anything else. For all that the aroma is super sweet, the tea itself is only subtly sweet, and most the sweetness is in the aftertaste. The tea itself is woody and a bit sour, like biting into an unripe fruit, this causes a great salivary effect. The midtaste is a bit spicy, like mulled wine, and delightfully woody, reminding me of a freshly broken apple wood branch.

The aroma of the second steep is rich, with a blend of freshly broken apple wood, dried peaches, spicebush, and a tiny bit of distant flowers at the finish. The taste is much like the first, but more so! The sweetness is throughout the entire sipping experience this time, the sweetness of dried peaches and the sourness of freshly broken green wood. It has a lingering aftertaste of spice and fruitiness, and a tiny hint of orchids once it cools.

For the third steep, the aroma is very peachy and sweet, in fact it is primarily peachy, with a hint of spice and a touch of woody resin, like myrrh. The mouth is much drier for this steep, and the taste is woodier, reminding me of red wine and a touch of resinous wood. This transitions to dried peaches and a slight sourness like unripe peaches. This tea is beautiful, I would love to buy a large pile of it to age, each year I would taste it to see how it changes, I have liked every aged Oolong I have tried, I crave more!

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