Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong First Grade (ZO80)
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From Upton Tea
This tea is the middle of the tie-guan-yin offerings from Upton, in terms of price. When brewed, the leaves unfurl somewhat but remain rather crinkly, and become a dark brownish-green colour.
When brewed, the tea is crystal clear golden colour. The aroma is very complex. It has some fruity tones, with a definite suggestion of apricot, but it is also quite sharp and skunky, with a hint of a marijuana-like quality, and a suggestion of of green olives. The flavor is smooth and very mellow, contrasting with the aroma. There is not so much of a hint of astringency, and there is barely any bitterness. A hint of sourness, which sinks to the bottom of the cup. This tea, like the similar ZO78, is noticeably thin in body. While I can imagine some tea-drinkers may prefer this (it gives it a clean, light quality), I would prefer a richer cup.
Upton recommends using 1+ teaspoon of leaves and brewing for 4-5 minutes at 190 degrees. This works, but I would lean towards the 5 minutes and definitely not recommend to go with a shorter time. Also, don't try using fewer leaves--although the aroma is very bold, the thinness of this tea really comes out. If you try brewing at a higher temperature than recommended, the complexity of the aroma is destroyed..although there are few objectionable qualities, the result is a very bland cup.
Bottom line? A very good tea. Not my favorite, and fairly pricey, but reasonable when compared to the Taiwanese Oolongs. I still prefer the Se Chung oolong; it is cheaper, has some similarities in aroma (and is also very complex), but has a richer body, and the leaves are better for multiple infusions.