A most unusual Wuyi oolong possessing a thick and smooth taste of roasted plums with a sweet finish.
This one has all the aspects of my favorite teas: highly oxidized, Wuyi, purple varietal, and it's even from What-Cha. I mean, how could it go wrong at this point? This is a newer offering from What-Cha, and I received 10g of it as a sample with my last order. I had a 50g bag of this tea in my cart, but then removed it because I was spending too much money already. So I was quite excited to see that Alistair had included a sample of it.
Zi Hong Pao is a naturally occurring purple varietal mutation of the classic Da Hong Pao varietal.
Dry leaves - Yup, it looks like a yancha. Dark twisty leaves with an amazing fruity, roasty, mineral aroma that makes my mouth water. Notably, this one is quite different from any of the Wuyi oolongs I reviewed from last month's Verdant tea club. Not that I could ever get tired of drinking tea from the Wuyi mountains.
Brewing parameters - 212F, 5s first, +3s after. I brew lots of different teas in many different ways, but yanchas and dianhongs are always brewed gongfu style.
Tasting notes - Smooth, sweet, candied plums, floral, roasty
Based on the sweet roasty plum aroma of the leaves, I really expected the soup to be purple. I was only briefly disappointed when it turned out a light golden hue rather than a royal violet. The aroma of the liquor is one of candied plums, mild roastiness, and a touch of minerality to give it that distinctive Wuyi feel. This tea is almost like a candy in liquid form. Something something visions of sugar plums...this would make a great tea for the holidays.
The first steep is much like I expected from the aroma: sweet roasted plums and a bit of that Wuyi minerality, and it goes down wonderfully smooth. It has an almost lip-smacking sweetness to it that persists for a long time after finishing the first cup.
Steeps 2-5 balance out quite a bit, with the sweetness mellowing out slightly, and the roastiness and minerality bringing the candied plums down a notch. But only a little. This is still an extremely sweet and fruity tea, and it quickly becoming one of my favorite Wuyi oolongs.
Steeps 6-9 don't change the profile much, but a mild florality has cropped up under the roasted plum taste. It really compliments the plum flavors well, and was kind of unexpected this late in the session. Not that I'm complaining. I don't think I could find anything wrong with this tea to complain about anyway. Steeps 10 onward are much more subdued. It seemed to drop a lot of it's flavor after #12, but I still went through 15 total. The sweetness is still there, but most of the individual flavors have disappeared.
This is a fantastic tea, and one of the best Wuyi oolongs I've tried so far. I was honestly surprised it was not only so different from a typical Da Hong Pao, but markedly different from any other tea I've ever had.
You can buy this tea from What-Cha here: http://what-cha.com/new-teas/china-fujian-wuyi-zi-hong-pao-purple-varietal-oolong-tea/