Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Buddha Hand Maocha

A friend brought back an educational tea for me from his latest trip to Taiwan. He visited Floating Leaves' Baozhong farmer in Pinglin. The farmer showed him an unfinished Buddha Hand oolong. Buddha Hand is commonly roasted, fairly dark, and it has a unique flavor. I've heard it was named after the Buddha Hand fruit, a gangly citrus that is mostly rind.

I finally got around to trying the tea today. It was not something I'd want to drink as a tea, but as an education it was interesting. Because the tea was a maocha (unfinished) it was full of stems and not rolled very beautifully. But that I expected. What did surprise me is how green the tea was, as in not at all very oxidized. I've tried this farmer's Buddha Hand before, and although I never thought it was a very 'deep' kind of roasted tea, it still didn't strike me as a fragrant style tea that had been roasted.

A few leaves had a bit of red color on their borders, but still the tea was more on the fragrant, green side. It is fascinating how much roasting can change a teas character! This seemed much more like the farmer's Baozhong. Not nearly as delicious, because the varietal was strange, but green in the same way. There was a unpleasant 'green' note, a bit like raw brussel sprouts. I find most nuclear green Tie Guanyin has a similarly aggressive green taste. On the flipside, I've noticed some varietals are flexible. Qingxin oolong, for example, makes a killer high mountain oolong and a charcoal roasted Dong Ding. Here's a cute photo of the tea, just rinsed, in a gaiwan.

Altogether this was a great little experiment. I like to know that some varietals only work for me in certain ways. This is one of them! I feel closer to the varietal now, like I've seen it's granny panties for the first time. How fun!


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Oolong Love in Seattle

I'm back! And spring oolongs are here. And Seattle is hot!

This seasons tea shares only one characteristic with last seasons tea. And that's that it's totally uncharacteristic of it's season. Spring tea, at least before the world's climates really started changing, was lighter and more floral while winter teas were more robust and complex. Talking about high mountain oolong here. Last seasons tea (Winter), however, was very delicate and didn't hit very hard. The season (Spring) that just came in is a full lineup of powerful teas.

The weather is the main culprit, as far as I've been told. Taiwan had a very warm winter last year, which means the teas grew to fast and the good stuff that we like to taste and feel was not as concentrated. This Spring was very cold, and the teas took their sweet time. They arrived in the shop almost a month later than usual! But the product is worth it.

The teas are all different. In the shop we have Alishan, Lishan, Shan Lin Xi, Hehuan Shan and Da Yu Ling. They all seem to carry some sort of citrus quality. Some are tart like citrus, some are more sweet. Some are stimulating like citrus, some have a clear citrus oil mouthfeel. I'm very excited about all the teas. I feel proud to work for someone who takes such care in finding the best teas she can. The teas are all still slightly groggy from the trip over. We call it jet-lag. And that means they are changing every day. When the settle down, I will try to characterize each of the five high mountains I've been drinking.


PS Check out Shiuwen's Spring harvest high moutain oolongs here