Saturday, January 9, 2016

Xin Mu Cha: Nonpareil Taiwan Ali-Shan Fo-Shou Oolong, A Tea Review

As you might all know, I have been in a funk lately...SAD getting me down, hand arthritis keeping me from painting, fibromyalgia pain keeping me from being overly intellectual and delving into research...all I have is Minecraft and tea, which honestly isn't that bad since both of these are great passions of mine. Ben, knowing I am just a pile of grumpiness surprised me today, I had to go to CVS to get some toiletries and afterwards he took me for Greek food! I absolutely love Greek food and could possibly live off of feta and kalamata olives if left to my own devices. The restaurant had a video of beautiful scenery of Greece and I found myself munching on olives while daydreaming about the Mediterranean. A very pleasant treat.

Today I am taking a look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, their Nonpareil Taiwan Ali-Shan Fo-Shou Oolong. I have not had a Fo Shou in quite some time, this tea is grown both in Taiwan and Wuyi, and its name means Buddha's Palm, I have seen that this name is both a reference to the fruit due to its subtle citrus notes or because the leaves are really big like the Buddha's palm. This Fo Shou comes from Ali Shan, a tea mountain I find myself visiting often...and by visiting I mean I have had many Oolongs from there, and they never disappoint. The aroma of this Oolong is very sweet, blending notes of yeasty orchids, honeysuckles, hyacinth, and a distinct orange blossom and grapefruit flower note blended with honey. There is a citrus quality, but to me it smells more of citrus flowers, bringing back happy memories of visiting the local conservatory.

My XiShi has felt sad and neglected lately, so I pulled her off the shelf and stuffed her full of leaves. Wow, the aroma of the wet unfurling leaves is intense stuff! Strong notes of orchid and honeysuckle with an accompaniment of grapefruit blossom and distant lemon zest. There are also underlying notes of buttery green cooked spinach. The liquid is a light blend of sweetness and flowers, bringing in nectar of hyacinth and grapefruit blossom with honey and a touch of buttery sweetness.

For the first steeping I was pleasantly greeted with a very mellow smooth taste, the texture is soft and smooth, bordering on velvety without being thick. The flavor notes start out floral with notes of hyacinth and orchid, this transitions to gentle green notes of lemon leaves and cooked bok choy and butter. For the finish, this might be my favorite part of this tea, the finish is cooked lotus leaves with an aftertaste of flower nectar sweetness.

Second steeping time, the aroma is a blend of buttery bok choy, spinach, lotus leaves and flowery notes of grapefruit blossom, orchids, and hyacinths. This steep is very smooth and thick, not oily like some Oolongs, but velvety and soft while filling the mouth, it is a very pleasant texture. The taste is more green than sweet, though it is not outright savory, very buttery and green like bok choy and spinach with a mineral note at the middle. Towards the end a note of cooked cabbage and lotus leaves pops up, but the finish is sweetness. Blending honeysuckles and grapefruit blossoms, the flowery sweetness lingers well after the sip is finished.

The third steep has such lovely amber colored liquid, the color could fool me into thinking this was a lightly roasted Oolong, but the aroma and taste tell me otherwise. The aroma is green and flowery, balanced in this with notes of lotus leaves and bok choy along with grapefruit blossoms and orchids. The taste this time around has only a hint of the buttery green notes of the previous steep, instead it is zesty and bright with notes of lemon leaves and lotus leaves. This moves to orchids and honey with a lingering note of grapefruit blossom in the aftertaste. The leaves gave me a couple more steeps, getting sweeter as it finished.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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