A Tea Addict's Journal

Jasmine tea without the jasmine

April 14, 2008 · 4 Comments

No, I did not drink jasmine today. I drank this

This is biyuzhu, one of those teas that I hunted in Taipei. After I finally found the right bag of tea to open, I get to drink it at least since the last time I did — which was when I had a sample from the store.

Basically, this is a high grade Taiwanese oolong, mostly buds, un-reroasted, aged probably 20 years or so. It was next to the bag of “wet stored” tieguanyin in the same big tin, and I asked for a sample of it to try before I decided it’s good and bought 600g of it. I thought 600g is enough, but I think I will need more.

It brews the same reddish colour that almost all aged oolongs will produce

Except that it has a very refine aroma, one that is more floral than fruity. This tea is probably the first one that I tried that I felt was truly un-reroasted. At that time, I didn’t know what it was, and simply marveled at its rather strong fragrance. Since then, through a number of tasting of other aged oolongs, I realized that this is the product of little to no roasting after the initial processing. The fact that it doesn’t taste sour at all is a feat in and of itself. I don’t know how they managed it, but they did. After a few strong infusions, the tea settles down to deliver a steady stream of aromatic elixirs that make me feel very happy. When I asked my fiance how she would describe the tea’s aroma, she said immediately that it tasted like jasmine. Indeed, the taste is quite similar to jasmine, excep that it lingers on and on long after it’s been swallowed, and the aftertaste, rather than simply dissipating into nothing, changes over time. Initially, you get the coolness that hits the throat, then it turns a bit sweet, and finally, a more plummy taste that only an aged oolong can deliver.

Mind you, this was achieved through the (mistaken) use of lots of leaves

One problem with this tea is that the tea expands, a lot. The plus side is that I got more than 20 infusions out of it. Most aged oolongs tend to be the less tightly rolled kind, so I sort of forgot how much tea this is once it expands…. it gave me a bit of a caffeine buzz and at one point made me slightly queasy.

But I love it.

Categories: Old Xanga posts

4 responses so far ↓

  • lewperin // April 15, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Reply

    Basically, this is a high grade Taiwanese oolong, mostly buds

    Sorry, did you really mean that? I’ve always thought oolong needs to be made from big, mature leaves thick and strong enough to take the kneading that’s done in manufacturing the finished tea. How would buds work? Or is it, as so often … more complicated than that?

  • MarshalN // April 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Reply

    @lewperin – 

    The “buds” are still 3cm or so in length, some more, some less… not the same “buds” as, say, you find in longjing.

    Besides…. there are other teas, like oriental beauty, that are made with pretty small buds.

  • jashnew // April 15, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Reply

    Hi Marshall- Big fan. I wanted to get your take on Ceylon and Assam tea. First question. Do you drink it? I discovered something about it. It should only be seeped for 90 seconds. I don’t understand why tea sellers say 3 to 5 minutes. Anything longer than 90 seconds makes it bitter and astringent. I have been experimenting with some Assam from a Internet vendor and found 90 seconds makes a perfect cup. 

  • MarshalN // April 15, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Reply

    @jashnew – 

    Hi there, I do, but rarely. I brew them gongfu in a big yixing pot, actually, so I wouldn’t know how many seconds to steep them 🙂

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