Sunday, October 30, 2005

guo jiang xiang phoenix bird oolong [private reserve] from

item # O-PBO-PR
harvest: 2005
parameters: 1 g : 1 oz
brewing vessel: cebei
date brewed for this review: 051029

dry leaf: long, not-overly-twisty leaves, dark brown, with prominent green veins. aroma, vegetal and very fresh.

brief rinse [20 sec], 1 minute rest.

INF1: 30 sec, 190F. aroma: a distinct but not overpowering floral scent, in the tuberose/plumeria range. color: medium gold. taste: very delicate oolong flavor overlaid with a floral [i mean specifically a floral, rather than a vegetal] taste that is again distinct but not overpowering, as some jasmine-flavored teas are. [that flavor is of course *added* to the processed tea by storing actual jasmine flowers in the leaves; this flavor is a function of the leaves’ being, after all, from a camellia plant. or could this be da hua-scented?] the aftertaste is tenacious but subtle.

INF2: 20 sec, 190F. the aroma seems a bit less prominent now, but that might just be my own acclimation to it at this point. taste: interestingly, the taste is just as round and full as INF1 -- if anything, more. preserving all the qualities of INF1, including the luxurious aftertaste. the infused leaves show some serration along the edge; their color is more uniformly green [not just in the veins].

INF3: 30 sec, 190F. wow, the aroma rushes up to meet me the moment i take the lid off the brewing vessel. the taste is inching a bit more toward the genuinely vegetal this time. aftertaste continues richly oolong-y with that brush of floral that one craves in these fenghuang oolongs. color: a bit paler gold; do i detect the faintest reddish hue to this now?

INF4: 35 sec, 190F. astonishing, the rhythms of these infusions. now the vegetal flavor steps back again and the floral comes more into play, both in the aroma and in the taste. still that same wafting aftertaste that lingers all across the palate and tongue. color is about like that of INF3.

INF5: 35 sec, 190F. aroma: delicately and almost purely floral. the taste however says ‘oolong’ even while that aspect of the flavor allows the floral to continue the dance. the color of the liquor remains steady. i have no doubt that this tea can be brewed for several more infusions without any loss of potency.

IN SUM: another aristocratic phoenix oolong from SRT. not as arresting, perhaps, as the mi lan xiang, but for that very reason perhaps more conducive to a quiet, un-dramatic drinking experience. i almost said ‘everyday,’ but such elite oolongs are by their very nature anything but everyday. the very brewing of them is [and should be] an event.

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