Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tillerman Tea: A Tale of Two Gaoshan

I knew the instant I opened the box and saw these two teas that I had to do a comparison post, they just begged for it! Same year, season, producer, cultivar and roast, the only things that separate them are level of oxidation, elevation, and location. How cool is that? Also the teas get credit for being from two of my favorite mountains and harvest times, so let us dig in!

Starting with the Shan Lin Xi (simply because it was what I grabbed first) and from the first sniff I was happy. The vibrant green leaves are very creamy sweet with an alpine clarity that screams SLX to me, like a pine covered mountain and whipped honey with undertones of honeysuckle and pineapple cake. After steeping the puffed out leaves just drip with flower nectar, lilies, honeysuckle, and hyacinth with a strong dollop of honey to bring in that extra sweetness. One thing I love about Gaoshan Oolongs, they are thick, one sip and your entire mouth is coated with buttery sweetness. Early steeps are light and sweet, like pineapple cake and lily flowers, later steeps bring in stronger floral notes and underlying vegetal notes that are super refreshing with the already pretty sweet tea. On a completely random note I grabbed some of my Sartori Merlot BellaVitano cheese and wow, that is a combo! I struggle to explain it other than good and kinda mind boggly, one of my new favorite tea and cheese pairings. This is a truly fantastic example of winter SLX!

On to the Lishan, this tea, this tea is amazing...I was completely in love the first moment I sniffed it, why? Because it smells like mangoes!! I love mangoes, they are one of my favorite fruits, I adore it and eat it whenever I can. Specifically there is a creamy quality, so it reminds me of mango burfi with undertones of honeysuckles and gardenia. Steeping the tea filled my tea desk with the heady sweet smell of mangoes, seriously why does this smell so much like a juicy fresh mango and sweet cream. The taste is immensely thick and juicy, like sweet creamy mango burfi and flower nectar with a hint of very distant spice. I love this tea, finally a drink that helps when I am craving burfi and lack the ability to get more or to make more (mangoes are expensive when you live far away from them, and all the canned mango is sweetened) later steeps bring in more classic lily blossom and vegetal notes I associate with gaoshan, but man, those mango notes! Can I pick a favorite between these two? No, not really. Shan Lin Xi is probably one of my favorite tea mountains ever and I also really love this Lishan, I think both deserve a spot in my tea stash!

Both teas sent for review

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