Thursday, March 5, 2015

Upton Tea Imports: "New Style" Fairy Oolong, A TBT Tea Review

For the first time in what seems like ages (it really hasn't been that long, just feels like it) I got mail! There was an adorably tiny box sitting by my door with China Post labels and a list of the contents inside, which was a teapot! A while ago I did a thing on Influenster that landed me a $25 ebay gift card (and I have another on the way, happy dance) and I was browsing on ebay right before Chinese New Year...for teapots...like I do...and found a shop having a sale on a beautiful little Zi Sha Xi Shi, claimed to be handmade, so I said, why not? I have wanted a Xi Shi for my Green Oolongs for a while (my original Green Oolong pot shall be repurposed for either Bao Zhong or Osmanthus Oolong, I love that pot, but the top handle makes it a giant pain to clean, so using it for a tea I do not drink as much of works for me) because this pots are adorable, I call them sphere pots and have decided that mine is a dude for some reason. Perhaps I shall call it Baron Harkonnen because I am not a good person.

So, it is Thursday, meaning I am cracking open an older notebook and reviewing a tea from my mysterious past (aka, last year) specifically Upton Tea Imports' "New Style" Fairy Oolong, a 2014 Pre-Chingming Oolong that I had the pleasure of ordering the day it came out (conveniently I was going to place an order with Upton soon and I got an email saying there were new Oolongs, because of course I get alerted when there are new Oolongs) from Hunan. Not really sure why it is called a fairy oolong, it does look similar to a vibrantly green Shui Xian, so maybe that is why? Regardless, I am a sucker for whimsy and Oolongs, so I tossed it into my cart. Holy moly, this is one massively floral oolong, rather heady, with notes of sweet honeysuckle, orchid, and hyacinth. There is also a note of mineral (specifically spring water) and a touch of buttery vegetal, like lima beans. Mmm, lima beans, I really want some now, my mom makes the best and I am hungry.

Into the gaiwan the leaves went, aw, this was back when I only had the one chipped white gaiwan, I now have eight gaiwans, how things have changed in a year! The brewed leaves are so vibrantly green, and very floral. Strong notes of orchid waft from the steamy leaves, there are lesser notes of honeysuckle and hyacinth, but oh man that orchid! The liquid is a blend of buttery, orchid, and a touch vegetal, just a tiny bit of distant beans sneaking in at the end.

The first steep, as expected, starts out rather light and fairly smooth, not as smooth as some oolongs, it has a bit of a vegetal sharpness similar to green teas. The taste is super sweet, like honeysuckle nectar, this moves to mineral and a touch of green at the finish.

Second steep's aroma is light, sweet, and very orchid heavy, so much flower! The taste is also super floral, it starts out orchid and hyacinth and then moves onto sweet honeysuckle for a delicate finish. This steep was not as complex as the first steep but that flower explosion made up for a lack of complexity.

For the final steep the aroma is still super orchid heavy, but now it is joined by delicate mineral notes, like water being poured on a slab of limestone. The taste starts out buttery and sweet, with notes of lima beans that fade to honey and orchid. Lastly the tea ends with a lingering mineral note with a touch of honey. I really liked this tea, it was super floral and sweet, and that mineral note was awesome, I do not find that in teas as often as I would like. Because apparently I like licking rocks or something like that.

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