Friday, March 13, 2015

Tea Ave, Tie Kwan Yin Oolong

Tea Ave Description:
The story behind Tie Kwan Yin Oolong goes something like this: Many years ago, a tea farmer from Anxi, China, discovered a tea that he took a special liking to. He named it Tie Kwan Yin, drawing from his Buddhist beliefs that the tree was a gift from the Goddess of Mercy, Kwan Yin. Fittingly, as the trees grow, they give off a pleasant aroma reminiscent of iron (tie).

Our Tie Kwan Yin Oolong is grown in Taiwan, not China, where many merchants who offer the tea source it. The terroir, or growing climate and soil conditions, of the Muzha district of Taiwan enables the trees to flourish, growing into a unique, distinctive-tasting tea. With a rich, deep flavor and a subtle bitterness, our Tie Kwan Oolong is pleasantly balanced by mellow, fruity notes, with a touch of sweetness. An opulent, distinct tea, Tie Kwan Yin is a favorite among oolong drinkers in Taiwan. 

Leaves are reddish brown and curled into balls. Tie Kwan Yin Oolong is an MOA organic tea.

Sample provided by Tea Ave

My Review:
One more oolong review before returning to our white tea extravaganza. This is the third sample from Tea Ave. The first two were excellent. Let's see if the trend continues.

This is a moderately roasted Tie Kwan Yin. It is listed as a 5 out of 10 on the roasting level while being a 5-6 on oxidation. When I opened the bag I half expected to be blown over by roasted notes. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I am also beginning to think Tea Ave is messing with me (just kidding). The roasted note is the strongest scent but I also catch fall leaves and a grape like scent. At least that is how my brains interprets the aroma.

I also was expecting the leaf to be the typical deep green shades. This one looks like a tippy black tea rolled into nuggets like an oolong. I am intrigued.

The gaiwan brewing method on the label recommends 2.5 grams of leaf for 110 ml gaiwan. I will be using a 90 ml gaiwan and the awesome aroma cup set I received from Tea Ave with the samples.

I heated the water to 200 F (95 C) and poured it into the tasting cup and then the aroma cup, to warm them, before pouring it into the gaiwan. The steep time was 3 1/2 minutes. Tea Ave recommends 3-5 minutes. That seemed long for a gaiwan but I went with it.

I used the gaiwan to fill the aroma cup, then covered it with the tasting cup. After a few moments I turned the set upside down and slowly lifted the aroma cup to fill the tasting cup.

The aroma cup is then used to catch the scent of the tea. I am not an expert at this method yet. I was mostly getting the roasted notes. I was kind of hmmm at this moment. Then I pulled the aroma cup away and immediately caught a rush of a floral bouquet. I don't know if it was from the wet leaf or the tasting cup. I just know I liked it.

The liquor is light apricot in color. Except for the leaf bits I let escape the gaiwan, the liquor is clear and bright.

The wet leaf is still partially holding onto its rolled shape. It looks like cooked spinach in the gaiwan.

In tasting, I am getting the roasted notes first and they are dark and nutty. Not at all overpowering as I feared with the long steep time. Beyond this I am getting a creamy sensation. I do not recall seeing this mentioned in any other reviews. This is not at all bitter. There is a slight bite. A sweetness runs throughout the sip. Towards the end I notice floral and fruit.

The fruit notes remind me of apricot. The floral I can't narrow down to any one primary scent. It is kind of a greenhouse scent. One thing I notice is what I am not catching, even in later cups. Normally with a Tie Kwan Yin, there is an abundance of what I have always called geranium. Other reviewers with a less favorable opinion call it latex. However you normally interpret this element, I am not detecting it here except as a very faint trace in the lingering aftertaste.

You can find Tea Ave, Tie Kwan Yin Oolong here.

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