Monday, December 19, 2005

Geraldo on Yu Lan Xiang [Phoenix Bird Oolong, Private Reserve] from Silk Road Teas

[from an email to corax. posted by permission.]

Lot YLXG2 [Private Reserve]. Note: this tea is spelled ‘Ye Lan Xiang’ in the SRT catalogue.

Tasted December 17, 2005

6 grams in glazed 6oz cebei
Quick rinse, two-minute rest

Water: roaring boil, then cool 40 seconds
Infusion lengths: 30s, 20s, 30s, 35s (à la coraxian dancong parameters)

Dry leaf: Leaves a little less twisted than normal dancong? A little shorter? Colors ranging from dark green to grey-black. More green, indicating less baking or processing than in dancongs to which I am accustomed.

1st Infusion: Strong, pleasant perfume aroma. Nice appearance in celadon-colored cup. Brisk, not-unpleasant bitterness. Aroma very strong, but flavor a little weak. Hoping for more spice in the second brew.

2nd Infusion: Strong bouquet of fresh flowers. Much stronger flavor in this infusion -- very pleasant. Lacks the sweet spiciness of, say, a well-baked Mi Lan. The finish is long and tart. Quite nice. Fruitiness: citrus. Easy to drink.

3rd Infusion: Quite similar in flavor to the second infusion -- perhaps a little subdued and more complex, presenting more dimensions. The experience of consuming this tea is intense, in large part due to the excellent aroma.

4th Infusion: Aroma fading. Tartness fading. Sweetness persisting. A significant retreat from the strong stance of the 2nd and 3rd infusions. Ah!: As the cup cools, the distancing tartness gives way to more spiciness. The tea is still pleasantly strong in a cooler state.

Comments: First, if you were to lecture your class on the definition of dancong newbies, you would place a likeness of my face on the overhead screen. I have everything to learn about this style of tea. Second, that being said, my tastes run to the darker dancongs and wuyis. The darker varieties have brighter flavors that make me sit up with sudden delight. They taste like Christmas -- apple pie, pecan pie, spiced hot cider. The greener iterations seem, well, green. Finally, my sample of this tea was a small part of a group-buy. Much time and several divvying-ups interposed betwixt the original purchase from SRT and my having access to this specimen. Possibly, a fresher sample might have contained tones, dimensions, nuances, spiciness, complexities, and strengths that this sample lacked. I’d like to give it a go again someday when I could receive it direct from SRT rather than be the third or fourth in a distribution chain. Finally, I have encountered many parameters for brewing dancongs: here on CHA DAO, on tea purveyors’ websites, and on discussion forums. I tried this tea yesterday with much longer infusions (1m, 20s, 1m, 1m10s), and it was too bitter. I have just enough of the sample left to try a series somewhere in the middle.


Anonymous said...

Ye Lan is Night Orchid
Yu Lan is Chinese Magnolia

Lew Perin said...

Sure, Ye Lan can be Night Orchid, but if there really were a tea called Ye Lan Xiang for Ye Lan = Night Orchid then one would expect to find hits for 夜兰香 on Chinese tea web sites the way 玉兰香 (Yu Lan Xiang) shows up. I tried with Google and came up empty.