Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Floating Leaves: 2016 DaYuLing High Mountain Oolong, A Tea Review

Today was a dreaded day that I have been putting off way too long, it was hair dye day. The blue/teal danger floof was getting faded and my roots were super obvious, I couldn't neglect it any longer, though let me state for the record I hate the process. I've never found a hair dye that didn't make my scalp burn (doubly so for when I have to bleach) or give me a rash, but I have skin issues so it is not the dye's fault. I recently went from vibrant teal to dark blue, especially at the roots (my hair is getting super long, even with the death hawk) so that I can get away with not bleaching the roots and only having them be super dark blue. For some reason this time the dye barely took on the roots, looks great elsewhere, so I am going to plan three, blue-black roots! It was my go-to color for years and having a slow fade from blue-black, to dark blue to teal will look super cool.

Continuing on the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler Adventure with a tea that I was both the most excited for and the most apprehensive about reviewing, 2016 DaYuLing High Mountain Oolong. It is one of my favorite Oolongs, but not because of its intensity of taste or rarity, no it is my favorite because it is one of the most sublime of the Oolongs. I have, in the past, compared DaYuLing to a symphony, something about it always reminds me of music, of spring breezes clearing away mountain fog in the morning, of afternoon rain. This is not a tea that simply smells and tastes like other things, it is a tea that fills my mind with memories. But there is more to this tea than esoteric navel gazing, it does have quite the aroma. Notes of sweet honey butter, sugar cane, honey suckles, lilacs, and freshly baked fluffy sweet bread blend with a wonderful light note of pineapple and hyacinth.

For this tea I decided to use my carved serpentinite gaiwan, treasure for a treasure, and my camera does not do the luminous green of the leaves credit. The aroma of the leaves reminds me of baking yeasty bread, sage, sugar cane, a distant whiff of spicebush blooming, and a finish of lettuce and light hyacinth. The liquid for the first steep is pleasantly light and delicate while being quite distinct, notes of honeysuckle and lettuce blend with sweet yeasty biscuit dough.

Holy mackerel this tea is thick, super thick and buttery. The dominant taste note is yeasty starchy biscuits with a drizzle of honey. Alongside this sweet starchy goodness are notes of flowers, honeysuckles and lilacs with a faint  hyacinth note. The aftertaste and finish combine a bit of lettuce and spicebush and it lingers for quite a long while.

I should warm that while writing this I feel pretty rubbish, but the idea of leaving a blog half finished seems wrong, so hopefully reading back over this later I will make sense! Sniffing this tea is an experience, savory lettuce and bok choy with a sweet starchy bread note that I have, in the past, compared to the aroma of one of my favorite mushrooms, the Destroying Angel. Yeah, I am a weirdo, but an armchair Mycologist weirdo needs to smell mushrooms, it helps with the IDing process. I cannot say if the tea tastes like these mushrooms since tasting them would kill me, but I can say it balances savory and sweet perfectly. It is a thick steep, immensely buttery with notes of sweet honey butter, cooked bok choy and lettuce, and a bit of cooked bamboo shoots. Alongside that is a blooming finish of honeysuckle and starchy yeast heavy bread that lingers for a long while allowing me to resume my introspective navel gazing before moving on to the next steep.

There is something really magical about this tea, how the flavor notes are so delicate and yet so potent, it is amazing. The notes of honeysuckle, sweet bread, buttery lettuce, and bamboo are so clear distinct but none of them are very potent, it is beautiful in its subtlety. I was able to sit with this tea for quite a while, getting a total of twelve steeps out of it, draining every last bit of flavor from the leaves before they were complete, and let it be said I loved every minute of it. In fact, I think I am going to go have another session right now...

Also, don't forget about the coupon if you want in on that sweet sampler action. Use the code teageekery35 for 35% off the High Mountain Sampler before August 31st! This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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