Here we are at our teashop in Zionsville, IN getting ready to open a 2 oz. bag of our economical Four Seasons High Mountain Oolong. We're really excited about this because it's our first taste of the new 2014 Winter crop from our farmers in Taiwan. This tea was literally picked and roasted last week at the farm in Shanlinxi, Taiwan. Talk about fresh!
Four Seasons, or sometimes called Four Seasons Spring, is a special cultivar called SiJiChun. It was developed to mimic the taste and profile of tea grown in the Spring, even if it was grown at other times of the year. Generally, this tea is grown at lower elevations and is the only tea we carry that is picked with a machine. The rest of the processing is done by hand by our Farmer, Mr. Zheng and his team.
Opening the vacuum-sealed bag, I'm immediately greeted by a creamy nose on the dry leaf. I'm using a Gaiwan to brew today but it's not necessary. This tea is great Grampa style too*.
We're starting with a rinse of the leaves. Typically, this is done with High Mountain Oolongs. It wakes the leaves up and and cleanses the tea of any small particulates. I'm using water right off the boil here. 212F, 100C
After the first rinse, which lasts maybe 15 seconds. The inhale of the wet leaf is giving mineral, mountain and a faint floral hint at the top. I'm always immediately transported to the mountains of Taiwan by these teas.
Now, I'm refilling to steep for about :30. This is a light steep. Liquor is light-medium viscosity. I'm waiting a couple of minutes to let it cool down because I know from experience that the lighter temps bring out more of the floral character in this tea -- and I also don't like burning my mouth! First round is a warm up.
Brewing again, this time for a minute. Our farmer said that rainfall was lighter this season so I was a bit concerned but I'm getting:
I'm pleased with this Winter crop Four Seasons and my session last for about 8 infusions.
It's definitely a nice tea at a very economical price-point. I recommend playing around with brewing. Try longer steeps and different temps with each successive steep just to see what this tea can do. While there are literally "higher levels" of High Mountain Oolongs, this is where I recommend people new to High Mountain Oolongs start.
Here's what the leaves look like after several steeps.
Place the spent leaves in a bottle, store bottle over night in the refrigerator and the next day you'll have refreshing Iced Tea.
*Grampa style is putting some leaves in the bottom of your mug, pouring in hot water and repeating all day.
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