Friday, January 27, 2017

Origins Tea: Jin Xuan - Ali Shan, A Tea Review

I was up...til 4AM...chopping down a tree in Minecraft. This was no ordinary tree, this is modded skyblock and I made the mistake of planting a sacred rubber tree, which is the biggest tree I have ever seen. Frustratingly, it was in the middle of my tree farm, which surrounded a giant redwood tree I was planning on turning into a base, so not only did it destroy my tree farm, it clipped into the redwood making it a giant mess. Had I known that sacred rubber trees would turn into some monstrous rubbery nightmare I would not have planted it, just goes to show how much of a noob I am with modded...but at least I will never run out of rubber!

Today's tea from Origins Tea is a bit of Taiwanese goodness: Jin Xuan - Ali Shan, a Jin Xuan oolong hailing from Alishan, one of my favorite mountains (yes, yes, I say that with all the mountains...I just really like Taiwanese teas and my favorite mountain usually depends on my mood, so today it is Ali Shan!) The aroma is everything I hope for from a Jin Xuan, strong notes of Asiatic lilies (the spicy kind, that smell like a lily rolled in cloves for the day) chestnuts, rice milk, sugar cane, and an underlying herbaceous and buttery quality that reminds me of well...herb butter.

This tea took a while to unfurl, usually, I am not a fan of rinsing oolongs, because I want that sweet nectar, but even my standard 30 second first steep barely unfurled the leaves,  so maybe just this one a rinse would have been ok. Even though the leaves took a while to really wake up, the aroma is fantastic, with notes of rice milk, chestnuts, lilies, hyacinths, and a touch of distant crushed sage. The liquid is light and buttery with rice milk and lilies, sweet and gentle.

Since this tea was so slow to wake, the first steep is very light in taste, not so much in mouthfeel though. It starts with a buttery smoothness which only intensifies in later steeps. The taste is ghostly sweet, distant lilies, faint hyacinths, gentle honeysuckles, and a touch of creamy chestnuts at the finish. The tea is being a real tease, hinting at what happens when it really gets steeped.

And hello Jin Xuan! As expected this steep really shows the tea off, strong buttery notes, like a butter sauteed bok choy with chestnuts (and water chestnuts but without their peculiar texture) it is a fairly savory start. This then transitions to sweet rice milk and lily flowers with a honeysuckle finish that lingers for quite a while. This is a very strong second steep, I might be describing a ton of notes, but the ones that are there are potent, and when combined with a very viscous mouthfeel, well, this is not a tea that is to be ignored.

It carried on in this fashion for several steeps, with the sweetness on the back half slowly creeping ever closer to the beginning of the taste, until steep six where all buttery vegetal notes had vanished. I was left with chestnuts, lilies, honeysuckle, hyacinth, and sugar cane juice until the tea called it quits steep ten. I really enjoyed this tea, it was a classic, viscous, Jin Xuan that did not pull its punches once it started going, even though it had a slow start. I wasn't really aware of how badly I had been craving a Jin Xuan until after I drank it!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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