Friday, January 15, 2016

Xin Mu Cha: Vivid Retention - Taiwan Premium High Mountain Oolong, A Tea Review

We might get snow next week! Yay! Granted it might only be a couple inches, but the way this winter is going it is certainly better than nothing. I love snow, it is one of my favorite forms of weather, rivaled by storms and beaten by the epic thundersnow! Several years ago when I was living in Pennsylvania we had a freak week before Halloween blizzard, it was a photographer's dream and I indulged fully. While out walking under the large flakes and heavy with snow trees I saw a blinding flash and then a massive crash of thunder, it was not the most epic of thundersnows (several years earlier it was a full on massive storm during a Nor'easter) but it was the only time I was outside during one and it was close enough to make me feel static in my fillings!

Today I am taking a look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, their Vivid Retention - Taiwan Premium High Mountain Oolong, hailing from high on La La Shan in northern Taiwan. This is their premium and limited edition batch, so seeing how it compares to their other La La Shan Oolong will be fascinating. The aroma of the very tightly curled leaves is immensely sweet and creamy, it is no stretch to say it is mouth watering! Strong notes of cashews, cake batter, sesame seeds, and cane sugar blend with heady notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, and sweet pea flowers. There is an underlying and distant note of butterscotch which I found really fun, it added a depth to the sweetness.

Brewing the leaves retains the sweet and floral notes but also brings out some green. Buttery snap peas blend with gentle lettuce and sorrel, then comes in notes of honeysuckle and hyacinth, with a finish of cane sugar, cashews, and a touch of pepper at the end. The liquid is sweet and starchy, yeasty cake batter and cane sugar mix with honeysuckle and cashews, with a crisp butterhead lettuce note at the finish.

The first steep starts out gentle and surprisingly green, it is more buttery than sweet. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, mouth coating without being oily, it has just the right amount of thickness. I still think after all these years, the mouthfeel of tea might be one of my favorite parts of the experience. It starts with crisp notes of butterhead lettuce and cooked bok choy with undertones of butter. This moves to sweetness in the form of cashews and honeysuckles, and a finish of honey and a slightly starchy aftertaste that lingers.

For the second steep, the aroma is both buttery and sweet, notes of bok choy and cashew mix with hyacinth and honey, it balances the sweetness making it not overly sweet. The tasting starts with buttery green cooked bok choy and lettuce, with a touch of lotus leaves and cooked bamboo, This moves to a very intense burst of chestnuts and cashews with a strong note of honeysuckle. The finish is a wonderfully sweet note of sugar cane with a lingering accompaniment of snap peas adding a bit of green with the sweetness.

Third steeping time and the aroma has taken on a mostly sweet and floral tone, with notes of honeysuckle, hyacinth, and sugar cane along with a gentle undertone of lettuce. The taste is also more sweet this time around, the green notes of lotus leaf and gentle butter are all that lingers from the previous steeps. After this initial green buttery notes, there are sugar cane and pecan notes, along with sweet chestnut and honeysuckle. The finish has a note of snap peas and cane sugar, both which linger. This was a very enjoyable tea, it had a suitableness to it that I found very relaxing and refreshing, and of course it lasted many more steeps.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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