I have been hoarding a certain Wuyi Xilan Rock tea procured from Arthur at Morning Crane Tea almost a year or more ago. The stars aligned finally and I found myself in the proper circumstances to conduct a tasting. I had a bottle of Volvic water at the ready and a quiet, chilly morning where my husband was still sleeping in. While I was sipping away contentedly, I wasn’t only thinking about the taste of the tea but my own particular method of tasting.
It’s been awhile since I played with a gaiwan, but I feel it is appropriate to dust one off to explore this wulong. As always, I heat and rinse the vessel with boiling water, dry it off and then plop the dry leaves in. I think this might be my favorite part, more than drinking the tea, I love to sniff the warm aroma of the leaves as they are gently heated. These leaves smell like peachy pears – so delicious!
As the show must go on before everything cools off, I pour the still steaming water into the gaiwan and put on the lid for a little bit. While the tea was brewing, I realized I needed to take out the pitcher and clean it off. Thankfully, I was quick and the leaves did not over steep. The bright amber liquor is darker than what comes out in the photos…
I sip from my little tea cup just enough to coat my tongue. I push some air from my diaphragm as if I were about to speak but keep my mouth closed. I rolled the air and the tea around in my mouth and activate my olfactory senses. The first couple of infusions taste like crisp pears. Only a hint of the charcoal roasting is present but I’m suddenly reminded of the roasted Tieguanyin from MarshalN I experimented with a few years ago. On the third infusion, the taste of pears give way to a refreshing herbaceous flavor I’ve experienced before some gao shan wulong.
After the seventh or eight cup, I have to take a break and drink some water as my mouth is feeling dry. But overall, I’m very much enjoying myself, and getting a little tipsy. I stop to admire the leaves once again, swelling yet smelling so fresh.
After a month of drinking matcha and gyukuro regularly, this wulong is a welcome respite. In comparison, Japanese green teas are like a dainty smack to the face, while wulong is a gentle, warm rub and pat on the cheeks.