Thursday, December 10, 2015

White2Tea: Qilan Trees - Wuyi Oolong, A Tea Review

What a beautiful day it is, so sunny and warm, and yet with all its warmth I have a very clingy cat. Espeon has been practically stuck to me today, which has made painting...interesting. I should consider myself lucky that she just wants to sit in my lap instead of playing with the brushes, but one wrong move of her tail means disaster. Or at the very least an inconvenient smudge or mispaint.

Today we are looking at a Yancha from White2Tea, their Qilan Trees! This tea was part of the tea club to go in tandem with their Qilan Fire, two rock Oolongs made by the same farmer, but processed differently. Namely Qilan Fire has a heavier roast and Qilan Trees is more gentle and in theory more tree themed. The aroma of the long curly and very dark green leaves (they are truly quite pretty) has a gentle bit of char, you can tell this is a Yancha, but the char is super delicate, good news for those who dislike the empyreumatic tinge to Rock Oolongs. Of course there is more going on then just faint char, there are gentle notes of wood (hello trees) distant flowers, mangosteen, cocoa, and honey. This is a very sweet smelling Yancha, which I like.

The Yancha pot hungers for leaves, so I load it up with its much wanted leafy friends and go to town steeping. The aroma of the soggy leaves is gentle in the char department again, like a distant pile of coals rather than wet coals or a burning fire. There is also notes cocoa and distant flowers with a subtle spice, like a spicy cooked quince and sweet mangosteen. Well this tea is winning on the exotic fruit department. The liquid is gentle in char again, with accompanying notes of mangosteen and cocoa, at the very end is a gentle wilted orchid aroma giving the distant floral note a name.

Ooh, that mouthfeel is silky! Usually I find most Rock Oolongs have a robust and at times sharp mouthfeel, but this one is like silk, it is so smooth. The flavor on this first steep is pretty light, starting with a gentle blend of mineral and distant char which pretty immediately moves to sweetness that stays for the entire sip. Blending spice and fruit, specifically quince and mangosteen (not a combo I ever expected) with a woody almost reed like finish.

The aroma of the second steep brings out more of a woody note, reminding me a bit of bamboo or some more reed like wood, combine that with cocoa and very sweet mangosteen and it is safe to say it smells quite good. The mouthfeel has moved from silky to almost creamy, which is quite fun, but it does move back to silky at the finish. Tasting the tea it starts with sweet cocoa and quince, moving to mangosteen and gentle mineral, and the finish is a blend of char and bamboo making for a woody finish, since it is the taste of older dry bamboo rather than the bright green shoots.

Third steep time, and the aroma is quite sweet, a light blend of bamboo wood, mangosteen, cocoa, and a touch of wet slate and char at the finish. The taste has a bit more char and mineral this time around, like a blend of limestone and wet slate and distant charcoal, specifically bamboo charcoal. The one thing that really struck me with this steep is how the gentle char, mineral, and a sweet honey and quince taste blended for a really light and almost airy flavor, something I generally don't associate with Yancha. Sadly my plans of tasting this one along side with Qilan Fire did not go as planned because when I finished with this steep my kettle died! Luckily it has since been replaced, but I have not had the opportunity to get back to the pair of Qilans, I think when I do I will coerce the Tea Barbarian to join me and I will do both in my gaiwan, meaning my Yancha pot will get cranky, but it can deal with it.

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