Notes of egg custard, lemon leaf, and white peach.
Oolong tea from Taiwan・January 2017・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 three years we've offered this tea, the harvest had occurred only after the 2000m tea garden saw snowfall. The low winter temperatures and slow leaf development allowed the plant to gradually accumulate nutrients, and flavor compounds. Winter this year brought low temperatures, but no snowfall. Not surprisingly, the tea produced is different, but uniquely delicious. The combination of near freezing temperature and sunshine enhanced the tea's florality, without sacrificing complexity. This crop has the underlying character of a true winter sprout, but also exhibits the aromatics of a high elevation spring-picked oolong.
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 notes of egg custard, fragrance of lemon leaves, and sweetness of white peach.
Brew: 6 grams・150 ml・205° F・1 min
We've found this tea nearly impossible to over extract - producing neither bitterness nor astringency on long steeps. A quick hot steep as defined by our brewing guide yields a bright, sweet character. Longer steeps will develop more viscosity, and a deeper, grain-like character. We suggest the lighter approach to this tea.