1. Evaluating a tea.
There is a standard way to judge Oolong (and we can extend it to other tea classes). The way Taiwan's tea judges brew tea is always the same: 3 grams of tea, boiling water poured with strength and then 6 minutes brewing in a (preheated) competition set made of white porcelain (see above). The cup is approximately 15 cl in volume, which means that you could also replace it with a porcelain gaiwan of similar size.
The advantage of doing this test for normal drinkers is to get to know your tea. What are the defects, unpleasantness that appear and that we want to minimize with our brewing. Also, it enables to better compare the different teas we have against each other.
Cultivar: Luanze (qingxin) Oolong
Origin: Yiguang Shan (between Zhu Shan and Shan Lin Shi)
Elevation: 700 meters
Harvested by hand on April 6, 2012
Low temperature slow roasting over an electric heater in a bamboo basket.
The color of the dry leaves is greyish green. The roasting is medium. However, the leaves open up fully and with vivid colors. This shows that the roasting has managed to preserve the freshness of the leaves. The tea is a balanced mix of nutty/malty and flowery/fruity flavors. There are no burned fragrances. Compared to the 2011 version, this is a hung shui "light": the roasting is much softer. The aftertaste is long.
2. Can our brewing improve this tea?
Each tea is different. Thanks to our new understanding of the tea, with adapt our technique. In this case, I decided to let the tea rest a few moments in my Anping jar. This usually helps to refine roasted Oolongs. I opted for a gaiwan instead of a teapot, because I still wanted a neutral take, an unbiased approach on this tea.
The result shows that the leaves have opened up well and fill the entire gaiwan.
The fragrances appear with more clarity. The taste has mellowed considerably! And there's a joyful sense of achievement of beating the benchmark!
This Cha Xi bids farewell to summer.