Possesses an incredible floral aroma and taste as expected of the best Shui Xian oolongs with a smooth texture and a very slight detectable trace of the light charcoal roast.
I reviewed the heavy-roasted version of this tea in the very first review on this blog back in September (see here), and that one is outstanding, so when the light-roasted version showed up at What-Cha a bit later, I knew I had to give it a shot. Green oolongs are very hit-or-miss for me. Some are excellent (i.e. Taiwanese Jin Xuan), while others are just deplorable (i.e. green tieguanyin, seriously, green TGY is a heresy). Knowing how good it's darker brother is, I had high hopes for this tea.
Dry leaves - Like the heavy roasted version, these are pressed into loosely packed square cakes, roughly 10g each. Coloration ranges from a bright chartreuse to an autumn orange to a dark forest green. Quite the color contrast going on here. The aroma is a light springtime floral/leafy scent, with just a hint of charcoal.
Brewing parameters - 185F, 15s first, +5s after
Tasting notes - Smooth, daffodil, lilac, lily of the valley, sweet citrus, charcoal
A light fruity citrus takes the forefront of this tea, followed closely by a smooth, sweet florality that just screams springtime. The citrus is more of a sweet tangerine than grapefruit like the heavy-roasted version has. The thick, vegetal/soybean element that I tend to associate with green oolongs is not present here in the slightest, which is nice. After 2 steeps, the cake was still mostly intact, so I broke it apart before the third steep.
Steeps 3-5 really took the floral sweetness and knocked it up a notch (bam!). Breaking the cake apart brought out the flavors quite well, and rather than just a general floral taste, I can detect daffodil and lilac quite easily, and even a touch of lily of the valley towards the finish. The tangerine/orange is still present and is present throughout the sip, but not overwhelming. I can taste just the tiniest hint of the charcoal roast long after the sip as well.
Steeps 6-9 mellow out significantly and the flavors become a little bit muddled. The charcoal flavor is just barely hanging on underneath the floral/citrus tones, and I can no longer pick out individual floral notes. It's still quite sweet though, and is incredibly smooth.
Like it's heavy-roasted cousin, this tea is a bit pricey so I doubt it will become a daily drinker for anyone, but it's a great tea to break out for company, or just to lift your spirits from the grey wintery crap that is moving in.
You can buy this tea from What-Cha here: http://what-cha.com/oolong-tea/china-fujian-zhangping-light-roasted-shui-xian-cake-oolong-tea/