Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tao Tea Leaf: Precious A Li Shan- Premium, A Tea Review

I think I need to give up on the dream of a black cloth on my tea desk, oh sure it looks fantastic day one, but as of the first time I turn my back on the tea table, it is the cat's table. So, either I need a tortie cat colored tea cloth that will also not show ALLLLL the stains from my tea spillage or I need to get a tiny tape roller to collect all the cat fuzz since she keeps insisting on sleeping on it. Clearly she is jealous of the tea pets and wants to be the alpha pet. Of course I could get one of those cool wooden tea trays with the drain, but it would make accessing my desk's cubbyholes nigh impossible...maybe I should just turn my antique secretary desk into a draining teadesk...that would be so metal. And also really hard!! For those who remember my other tea desk WIP it is currently on hold until after I move...someday.

Today is, unless my notebook is a big ol' liar, the last of the pile of samples from Tao Tea Leaf, their Precious Ali Shan-Premium, though reading the description, I am not sure if the Oolong from Ali Shan or an Oolong from Li Shan, I though about trying to figure it out through taste (or being sensible and contacting the shop) but then decided, maybe I spend too much time getting bogged down in the details, maybe I should just enjoy the tea and let it be the guide, not any preconceived notions of location. So tea, what do you have to tell me? The aroma is creamy, like all sorts of creamy, we have milky notes, sweet cream, honey butter, and almond milk. Underneath that sweet creaminess is a touch of gentle spicebush blossoms and faint papaya fruitiness.

Into my gaoshan pot the leaves go! The aroma of the now steeped and slightly unfurled leaves is gentle almond and chestnut at first, this moves to a nice burst of honey and flowers, honeysuckles, lilac, and that tropical fun burst of papaya at the finish. The liquid is where all the creamy action went, chestnuts and sweet cream with a nice burst of almond milk and distant honey drizzled bread.

First steeping is very creamy in the mouth (I am seeing a bit of a theme here) nice and smooth, one of my favorite thing about gaoshan Oolongs, they have some of the best mouthfeels in the tea world. The taste is sweet and creamy, almond milk and papaya notes mix with gentle flowery undertone. As the sipping continues the flowery notes build to a distinct honeysuckle note, and the finish has that same note with a lingering honey and chestnut aftertaste.

Second steeping, the aroma of the liquid has a nice spicebush note at the first, that moves to sweet cream and nutty notes of almond milk and chestnut. I am really liking the almond milk note, being one of my favorite non-dairy milks. The taste really ramps up the sweetness this steep, creamy and gentle nutty with a blend of chestnut, almond milk, coconut milk (specifically the milk substitute, not the super heavy stuff you get for cooking delightful Thai food, or coconut juice, the coconut note is very light in that stuff) and a touch of actual sweet cream. The finish is a lingering honeysuckle note that just keeps on going.

The third steep taught me something very valid, never rely on an internal timer (fun fact, any teas that require less than a five minute steeping time, I just keep watch on the leaves, count it out, or just wait til it feels right) for steeping tea while playing Terraria, I oversteeped the third steep by a good two minutes. Way to go, Amanda! The liquid was dark compared to the previous steeps, but the aroma was all flowers, no more cream, just a bouquet of lilacs and honeysuckles, very sweet and spring like. The taste was not at all bitter, not a bitter note to be found, hooray! The taste is intense creamy notes of chestnut and almond milk and then BOOM flowers! So many flowers, like I just fell face first into a lilac bush and got all its tasty nectar into my mouth. Well played, Oolong, well played!

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