04 November 2009

I still like it HOT

We started with a over 1/2 pound of unsealed Winter 08 Alishan High Mountain tea, and by the time we were done, only about 1/2 of that was left (granted, I also gave away some samples that we had to tea friends that stopped by that day).  The results of our first test?

Boiling water releases the full body of the rolled-oolong leaves, as well as the full sweet & floral aroma.  However, boiling water also causes the tea to taste “cooked” after a few infusions.  The result is that after about 3 or so infusions, the tea experiences a loss of the delicate flavors and smells that were previously present.  Complete floral notes with the high mountain characteristics are greatly reduced, and the brew loses some of the characteristic sweetness and hui gan.

Water that is cooler will yield more brews of high mountain tea.  There is a characteristic tanginess to the tea from the buds that are present in each rolled-oolong ball, which is reminiscent of the underlying “fruit/floral sourness” (果酸) that can be found in some types of tea-bud teas.  However, water that is too cool will fail to bring out the full body and aroma of the teas, since the mature leaves of the oolong require more heat.

Daniel remembers one of his Taiwanese tea retailer friends saying that 92-95 degrees celcius is the sweet-spot for high mountain teas.  With that said, each tea for each season will vary, as will the amount of tea used, the time needed for each brew and the type of brewing vessel used.  I still really enjoy the first couple of boiling-water brews for a high mountain tea.  I can see why so many tea retailers and producers use boiling water in Taiwan, because it really does bring out the highlights of the brew. 

No right answer, just a matter of preference.  Too hot and one may miss the delicate tastes and flavors.  Too cold and one will miss the complete body and aroma of the oolong.  Hit the sweet-spot and you might have both.  Only a good tea will reveal the complexity of tastes and smells that we’re aiming for, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment