Lishan Winter Sprout
Notes of fresh peppercorn, sugar snap pea, and egg custard.
Oolong tea from Taiwan・January 2020・梨山不知春・Unsprayed
Lishan Winter Sprout is one of our signature teas. In appearance, taste, texture, and aroma, we’ve never come across a tea as unique as this one. The dry leaves are vibrant green flecked with gold, several shades lighter than a typical Taiwanese oolong. The hand-crafted pearls are loosely rolled, unraveling into clusters of three or four leaves on a stem.
There are several names for this tea. The tea maker calls it huang jin cha, or gold tea. We prefer its more poetic name, bu zhi chun, meaning "never know spring.” The name refers to the pre-spring harvest of this tea, picked after the leaves have matured slowly through the winter months.
The harvest of our Lishan Winter Sprout takes place after the 2000m tea garden sees its first near-freezing temperatures of the season. Low winter temperatures and slow leaf development allow the plant to accumulate nutrients and develop flavor intensified compounds. Low temperatures also encourage sugar storage, a process that hardens the plant against winters cold.
The result is a base leaf that has all the necessary components for an extraordinary tea: one with texture, floral characteristics, and sweetness, without any hint astringency or bitterness. This tea was withered indoors, followed by long, low-temperature oxidation for more than ten hours before the tea was gently rolled to bruise the leaves. A second, shorter oxidation period was followed by a final round of bruising, rolling and roasting to finish the tea. The final result yields gently curled leaves that unfurl gracefully when steeped.
The uniqueness of this tea reveals itself as soon as the tea hits water. The brewed liquor is a vibrant, almost neon green, and the leaves continue 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 - this concentration leaves a noticeable layer of green in each cup. The liquor is rich but bright, with the slight tang and floral quality of fresh green peppercorn, an underlying vegetal note of sugar snap pea, and the creaminess of egg custard.
Brew: 5 grams・150 ml・208° F・1 min
This tea is nearly impossible to brew poorly. Because it has very little innate astringency, it takes well to slightly longer steep times and higher temperatures. Longer steeps will yield complexity and herbal 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|