Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout
Notes of caramelized ginger, kettle corn, and cotton candy.
Oolong tea from Taiwan・February 2023・杉林溪不知春・Unsprayed
The leaves of Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout sweeten with cold weather. This season’s harvest benefited from 2023’s cold winter, with low temperatures at the start of the year triggering a hardening of these tea leaves that increases sugar content and nutrient storage. The result is a concentrated sweetness, bringing the notes of spun sugar and candied ginger to the fore.
There are several names for this tea. Winter Sprout is dong pian in Chinese. The locals also like to call this bu zhi chun, which translates poetically to “never know spring,” a reference to tea leaves harvested before the arrival of warmer weather.
The source garden on Shan Lin Xi is located 1500m above sea level. The harvested tea consists of single or paired leaves that have sprouted in several areas along the upper branches, which renders them distinctly different in appearance from standard spring or winter harvest teas. After shade withering, crafting is done entirely by hand – the leaves are bruised on woven bamboo trays, allowed a long, 40+ hour low-temperature oxidation, then rolled in small batches inside canvas bags, and roasted. Finally, the tea is baked at a low temperature to decrease moisture content and enhance sweetness and complexity.
The unique flavor profile of Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout comes from a combination of harvest time and craftsmanship. The tea maker accentuates the accumulated flavor and aromatic compounds of the tea with unusually long oxidation and baking times. The result is altogether unique, and delicious.
Brew: 6 grams・150 ml・205° F・1 min
Short steeps of a minute or less will highlight the sweetness and caramel notes of this tea, while longer steeps will result in a thicker, more syrupy character. Keep subsequent infusions to the same recommended time. Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout is also stellar iced.
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|