Lishan Winter Sprout
Notes of fresh peppercorn, snap pea, and egg custard.
Oolong tea from Taiwan・January 2018・梨山不知春・Unsprayed
The Lishan Winter Sprout is one of our signature teas. In appearance, taste, texture and aroma, we’ve never come across a tea as special as this one. The dry leaves are vibrant green flecked with gold, several shades lighter than the typical Taiwanese oolong. The hand-crafted clusters are loosely rolled, unraveling into clusters of three or four leaves on a stem. The cupped tea is sublime.
There are several names for this tea. The tea maker calls it huang jin cha, or "gold tea.” We prefer the more poetic bu zhi chun, meaning "never know spring.” The unusual name refers to the pre-spring harvest of this tea, after the leaves had matured slowly through the winter months.
In the five years we’ve offered this tea, the harvest has occurred after the 2000m tea garden saw near freezing temperatures. The low winter temperatures and slow leaf development allowed the plant to accumulate nutrients and develop flavor compounds. Low temperatures also encourage sugar storage - a process that hardens the plant against winter cold.
The result is a base leaf that has all the necessary components for a very special tea: one with texture, florality, and sweetness, and absent astringency and bitterness.
This tea was hand-picked and withered indoors, followed by a long low temperature oxidation for nearly ten hours before they were gently rolled to bruise the leaves. A shorter oxidation period followed by a final round of bruising, rolling and roasting finished the tea. The final result are gently curved clusters that unfurl gracefully when steeped.
The uniqueness of this tea reveals itself as soon as the tea clusters hit water. The brewed liquor is vibrant, almost neon green, and continues to infuse through multiple rounds. Lishan Winter Sprout has an altogether different character than any Taiwanese oolong we have tried. Its viscosity is beyond compare - the concentration of compounds leaves a noticeable layer of green in each cup. The liquor is rich but bright, with the tang and florality of fresh green peppercorn, underlying vegetal note of snap pea, and creaminess of egg custard.
Brew: 5 grams・150 ml・208° F・1 min
This tea is nearly impossible to mis-brew. Because it has very little innate astringency, it takes well to slightly longer steep times and higher temperatures. Longer steeps will yield complexity and herb notes without sacrificing sweetness.
More familiar with our old quantities? Here’s the conversion:
|Metric quantities||Ounce equivalent||Servings|
|30 grams (new size!)||1.05 oz.||5-8|
|60 grams||2.10 oz.||10-15|
|120 grams||4.20 oz.||20-30|
|240 grams||8.46 oz.||40-60|