Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Tea from Taiwan, Shi Zuo Oolong Tea
Shi Zuo oolong tea (wu long tea) is grown in the Shi Zuo (Stone Table) area of Alishan (Mount Ali). At an altitude of 1300 meters, Shi Zuo has a cool, moist climate that is ideal for growing tea.
Shi Zuo oolong tea is hand picked and hand processed in the traditional manner of Taiwanese High Mountain oolongs. The processing results in ball-shaped tea pellets which consist of two or three leaves and a bud. These pellets open up during brewing to release the full flavor of the tea.
In order to experience the full potential of this tea, we recommend brewing it Gong Fu style. This method of brewing brings out the sweetness and complex undertones that mark this tea as one of the best that Taiwan has to offer.
Sample provided by Tea From Taiwan
Price: $41/150g or $0.82/3g serving
I cut open the brightly colored sample packet and was greeted with a lovely grain aroma. The nuggets are tightly wrapped and grayish green in appearance with some lighter streaks. There are no steeping instructions printed on the sample so I used half the sample (3g) in my press with 12oz of heavily steaming water. My steep time was 2 minutes. The liquor is bright and excellently clear with a yellow color. The leaf has only partially relaxed, and has a fresh light steamed vegetable scent.
I begin this tasting without additives and the disclaimer that I normally add Splenda to my hot teas, although I almost never sweeten my iced teas. While hot, the best I can describe this is to compare it to a swell effect on a guitar. Once the strings are strummed the sound starts tiny and swells in volume until it fills the room. Being unaccustomed to unsweetened tea this starts very light, almost watery and swells to a crescendo in the floral aftertaste. The breath is left cool and fresh. The taste of this first cup is similar to a tiguanyin but lighter.
Adding Splenda brings out nutty or plant notes that change to a light coppery taste only momentarily before fading into the floral aftertaste. I can’t say whether this is better with or without sweetener. It is neither. It is just different. It does turn lightly buttery as it cools. Maybe it would have done that anyway had I waited. The cooler it gets the more I like it. Room temperature it develops a sort of cinnamon note.
The second cup @ two minutes was very similar to the first but more pronounced. I found myself enjoying it a little more. I am also noticing the spice I caught in the cool cup is now more of a light clove note late in the sip. With cup three @ about 3 minutes, I am just accepting this appeals to me more the colder it gets.
This is a light green oolong similar to tiguanyin without a heavy aftertaste. It is still going strong after three mugs but I am out of time.
Visit Tea From Taiwan website.