Notes of caramelized ginger, kettle corn, and cotton candy.
Oolong tea from Taiwan・March 2017・杉林溪不知春・Unsprayed
Our Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout is only available when weather conditions are ideal. This current round was picked and made the second week of March 2016, from leaves that sprouted in late November. The intense cold at the beginning of the year triggered a weather hardening of the tea leaves that increased the amount of sugar and nutrient storage.
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 poetically means “never know spring,” a reference to tea leaves that are picked before the arrival of warmer weather.
The source garden is on Shan Lin Xi, located at 1500m above sea level. The picked leaves consist of single or paired leaves that sprouted in several areas along the upper branches, so the clusters crafted from them appear different from the standard spring or winter harvest teas. After shade withering, crafting was done entirely by hand – the leaves were bruised on woven bamboo, allowed a long 40+ hour low temperature oxidation, then rolled in small batches inside canvas bags, and then roasted. The tea was finally baked at very low temperature to decrease moisture content and enhance sweetness and complexity.
The unique flavor profile of this tea comes from a combination of the harvest time and craftsmanship. The tea maker accentuates the accumulated flavor and aromatic compounds of the tea with longer than usual 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.