Review: Shanlinxi Yang Zi Wan Oolong

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Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It goes from mild to flavourful and back again."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.2/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 8.4/10, Shaiha gave it 7.3/10, Jamie gave it 9/10
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This company is new to me, but I get positively giddy about anywhere that offers proper Taiwanese oolongs, and these guys do it at "local Taiwan prices," so that's pretty stellar. First, a breakdown of the tea's name: It's a Winter (November, specifically, according to the website) 2011 harvest from the Yang Zi Wan district in Shanlixi area, Nantou County, Taiwan. It's made from the Qingxin oolong varietal of plants, it's vacuum-sealed, semi-oxidised, and unroasted. I think that about covers it.

The leaves are beautiful, balled and brilliantly hued with swirls of green and gold. I put 5 grams of tea in a preheated 5-ounce yixing and steep at 180° for 30 seconds. The cup is lighter than I expected and very simple. Largely creamy and smooth, it's delicious and uncomplicated.

Clearly the first steep woke up the leaves because my 30-second second steep is far more vibrant than the first. It has a creamy, lilac scent. The oily texture coats the mouth and leaves the new mineral flavour lingering on long after everything else is gone. A slight acidity balances the sweetness. This is a strikingly different cup than the first, since it's far richer and more complex. Both have their own merits and are equally good in different ways.

My third steep is similar to #2 though slightly more subdued, and the following infusions become mellower and mellower until at some point they closely resemble the mild first steep again, albeit with a pronounced mineral component. I get 11 steeps total.

I like the variety of this tea. It goes from mild to flavourful and back again. At times, it's simple and easy to drink, and at others, it makes you think. If you want an oolong but aren't quite sure what style you're craving, then this is a good leaf to reach for. If this is the sort of freshness, quality, and price I can expect from, then they may be my new favourite Taiwanese tea company.
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