Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2013 NATC LiShan Winter Oolong

Hello! Today I'm going to be talking about a new tea I have been excited to get in the mail; Mountaintea.com's 1st Place winner of the 2013 North American Tea Competition(NATC) green oolong category: LiShan Winter Oolong!(Cheers)

Now with this much anticipation of a tea, or anything really, I tend to try not to get too excited so I'm not let down if its all hype. Fortunately for this tea the "hype"(if you call putting a NATC emblem on the sites image hype) was pretty on par with what I read on the NATC's website. The LiShan received a score of 90 putting it into the 'Outstanding: a distinctive tea with brilliant style' category. Well, lets not take their word for it, time to crack open the bag!

First steep after rinse!
After opening the bag and smelling the dry tightly rolled green balls, I wasn't really smelling anything that was blowing my mind. It had a faint floral smell but not really much of a smell at all really. I attributed this to lack of acclimation of the tea. After letting the tea sit for an hour or so the real scent of the tea came out! An orchid floral note mixed with orange blossom dances with fresh green oolong and permeates from the bag begging me to fill a pot and experience its brothy offering.

LiShan is a growing region in Taiwan 2000+ meters above sea level. This high elevation growing is well suited for tea due to its consistent cool temperatures. This tea exhibits all the initial characteristics of a high quality tea and all that was left was to put some in a pot and brew.

Steeping 3 or 4.

After adding 8-10g of Lishan to my vessel I poured off boiling water on the leaves for a quick "wake up". The smell of orchid and orange blossom takes the stage. When tasting the first steep, I get the obvious floral notes but I'm also getting a citrus note. Its either orange or lemon. I may be also getting a slight hint of jasmine in there too. I'm also getting hints of creme and vegatables from time to time. The broth is lightly colored with a smooth mouth feel. Its quite nice. This is one of the only teas, albeit flavored teas, that I have tasted fruit notes. In the later infusions, this tea keeps up well. I was getting a full flavor brew for 5-6 infusions tapering off into a flowery water. Because I don't have tons of expirence with floral teas I can only compare this to the Four Seasons of Spring I posted about a few weeks ago. While the FSoS was good; the LiShan kicks its ass in delicacy. FSoS is a flower bomb while the LiShan is a flower falling slowly to the ground. The Lishan also stands out in complexity compared to the FSoS. The citrus and individual floral notes really make you sit and focus on the cha. It demands you to listen to what it has to offer, relaxing you all the while.

Leaves in a yixing!
Note: When trying the LiShan I brewed it in a porcelain houhin and a yixing pot. I preferred the porcelain houhin's brew over the yixing because I felt the yixing muted some of the more complex notes I was getting out of the houhin.