Review: Shanlinxi Long Feng Xia Oolong

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Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Reasonably priced, this tea is well worth it for those looking for an oolong with a sizable helping of smooth, buttery greens."
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 7.6/10, Shaiha gave it 7.6/10, Jamie gave it 8/10
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This semi-oxidized, unroasted oolong was handpicked in the winter of 2011 in the Taiwanese district of Long Feng Xia, located on the slopes of the Shanlinxi mountain range. The dark green leaves have been rolled into hard, tight nuggets of varying shapes and sizes. There seem to be a surprising number of twigs present as well. Dry, this tea's aroma is sweet, creamy and slightly grassy.

I brewed this tea gongfu style, using 5 grams of leaf in 6 ounces of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 50 seconds. The leaves swell up quickly in my infuser. The resulting cup seems quite summery to me, being bright yellow with a mild wild flower and grass scent. It's profile is buttery and nutty, with a distinct mineral component right off the bat. There is a soft and slightly sweet vegetal dimension as well, in the form of asparagus and artichoke notes. The finish gets progressively sweeter as time goes by. Something about the grassy yet sweet astringency reminds me of Japanese greens. The overall impression is of a smooth, rich flavourful cup, closer to a green tea in taste than to a roasted oolong.

I was able to get 7 more cups from these leaves. After 40 seconds, my next infusion leads to a relatively similar brew to the previous one. It's a little rougher in feel and more astringent, but the buttery greens dimension is still alive and well. This almost peppery edge makes an interesting contrast with the overall creamy smoothness of the tea.

Using 1 minute, 90 seconds, 2, 3, 4 and half, and 6 and a half minute-long infusion times, the following steeps are much softer and fruitier. Some buttery notes are still present but the results are much more unilaterally sweet. Around the 6th cup, the brew is still pleasantly fruity but develops rougher mineral notes as it cools. By the 8th, it's barely more than hot water, a few mineral and peach notes mildly making themselves known.

Reasonably priced, this tea is well worth it for those looking for an oolong with a sizable helping of smooth, buttery greens. I found that when brewed Western-style (1 heaping teaspoonful in 8 ounces of water steeped for 4 minutes), it yields a remarkably nutty cup. When prepared this way, it reminds me of a fruitier version of a Long Jing. Once again, the folks at T-Oolongtea have provided a winner!

— To purchase Shanlinxi Long Feng Xia Oolong, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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