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2019 Gold Grade Medium Oxidation Anxi Tieguanyin Oolong (8g)

2019 Gold Grade Medium Oxidation Anxi Tieguanyin Oolong (8g)

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December 12th, 2019

My apologies for the poor quality of the pictures on this listing: I tested this tea at night, and the lighting really threw off the color of the leaf, despite my best attempts to adjust the balance and ISO settings. I'll have to take some more pictures (including at least one of the liquor) to do this tea justice, but I'm putting it up now for those who might want to try this amazing tea!

This dealer has some of the best tieguanyin in town, and it is of a medium oxidation and lower roast-style that none of my other suppliers carry. This is the absolute highest grade of tieguanyin they offer, and it is truly something else. Top shelf tieguanyin can go for over US$50,000 a kilo. While this tea certainly isn't that expensive, it isn't the most economical tieguanyin out there either! This is a truly exceptional tea for the drinker who wants something special to try, or even to drink regularly (and many do drink this grade of tieguanyin regularly).

This is an extremely clean tea, and like the Silver Grade, is very forgiving in the gaiwan or pot. It's hard to make this tea go astringent or bitter unless you really try, which is the hallmark of a good tea in many cases (these rules don't apply to sencha, for example!). This is a wonderful tieguanyin, and this particular style and oxidation level is not something I can really source anywhere else.

Green qingxin 'tieguanyin' became very popular in the Mainland after the success of green Dongding at competitions in Taiwan. Green Dongding oolong blew the judges away in the 80s, and it wasn't long after that green tieguanyin from Anxi hit even higher prices at auction in Guangzhou!

Unlike the silver grade, there are no stems in this material. The leaves are significantly smaller than with green qingxin from Taiwan. This is a shockingly clean and smooth tea, and if you've ever had green tieguanyin that you felt was unpleasant in some way, this tea would absolutely knock your socks off. This is a very high quality tea.

The dry leaf in a pre-warmed pot gave me notes of longan wood with some osmanthus at first, before greener (but mellow) qingxin character arose. 

In the cup, I was surprised by the well balanced and long lasting huigan from this tea. There was absolutely no astringency or bitterness in the first infusion, and I used a high ratio (50% dry fill) and a long first steep of 45 seconds (full boil). This is a very smooth tea with no unpleasantness to the aroma or flavor whatsoever. The flavor is well balanced as far as intensity, and full and long lasting. These are all characteristics of an excellent quality tea (not just a green qingxin tieguanyin).

The aromatics are sweet, almost verging on fruity, and very pleasant. You can definitely see how Dongding oolong influenced qingxin production across the straits, but this tea has character entirely its own, due to the differences in terroir and processing in Anxi.

The light roast brings out some notes of caramel biscuit, but there is no other detectable roast note to this tea at all due to the lighter roast used. 

The second infusion (30 seconds) brought out light, but very tolerable, astringency. Caramel, spearmint, fresh milk and strawberry were all present on my palate. I also realized I was getting a pronounced calming effect from this tea, which I don't get from every qingxin tieguanyin I drink. I noticed I was having a little trouble counting down the seconds for my infusion, as well as typing notes down on the experience.

In the third infusion, I was finally able to elicit some bitterness, but it was very well balanced with the overall profile. There is some chlorophyll (fresh grass) and buttery dry grass notes (a la baozhong) in the later infusions, which again is something I detect in qingxin on both sides of the straits. 

This is a super clean and relaxing qingxin tieguanyin with an excellent calming effect. I highly recommend this tea to anyone who really enjoys tieguanyin, or anyone who has been disappointed by lower grade tieguanyin in the past. This tea might just knock your socks off!

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