Review: Naivetea Mu Zha Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Naivetea, Oolong Tea, Ti Kuan Yin Tea Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The beautiful roasted character is so nicely balanced for sweet delight in coffee scents and flavours livened by an unripe acidity that surprises in the lingering green aftertaste. "
Raven’s Teaview: 8.2/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 8.2/10, Katie gave it 8.1/10
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In comparison to the modern style Tie Guan Yin that is gaining increasing popularity, the fragrant and green ingénue, traditionally Tie Guan Yin walked on the wilder side with a roasted maturity and an oxidation to match. As China has become more into the newer greener style for the Iron Goddess, Taiwan keeps to tradition for a deity with a dark allure. When one thinks of Taiwanese Oolongs, Naivetea easily springs to mind, specializing in Taiwanese oolong that bring an array of classic and flavoured oolongs. While their Mu Zha Tie Guan Yin has the price tag of a special treat, Naivetea eschews all its pedigree to give it shape as a medium roast Tie Guan Yin with a 45% roast and "a complex candied acidic flavour with a lingering refined sweetness”.

If that doesn’t sound to die for, seeing the tea is certainly hard to resist. The leaves are luscious, luxurious looking, like little chestnuts with neatly sculpted nuggets of a darkly more or less uniform rich chocolate brown with just a few tinted green. Blondes may have more fun but it’s a brunette’s lovely. While the appearance didn’t wink at the leaves freshness, out of their package, the tea’s aroma sure does. Somewhere between ‘how you doin’ and a coquettish hello, the bouquet is medium pitch, crooning waxy smooth with a linseed oil slick to a wonderful balanced roasty-ness that retains a whisper of floral to a woodier oaky scent. The most pleasing isn’t its flirtatious demeanor but the fine temper of the roast as it can so often dominate. It’s not quite a come hither aroma but it is an interesting welcome.

With the kettle set to hot and steamy, I steeped the tea as Naivetea recommends as one tablespoon of those darling pellets for six ounces of 203°F?? water for stints of 40 seconds, 50, 60, for a total of seven steeps. Cup one steps up in an understated tan ensemble, so different from the richness of the leaves’ hues. But contrary to the colour, the tea’s medium bouquet is darker, like strong coffee, whose boldness is softened with milk and sugar or creamer. The notes of sweetness mingling with the nicely integrated roast also seems like coffee and roasted corn with a vegetal quality. That corn twist, I so liken to tie kuan yin, is both a neat dimension, not just a pretty face and a pleasing find in that again the roast doesn’t mask the tea. The flavour takes more cues from its dress as the flavour is light with little dryness to guide it. However, the light body pulls from the aroma for a milder coffee and milk with an added leafiness that’s almost viney or a touch astringent tasting. As it falls, the flavour sweetens like coffee with freshness which is a peculiar combination in theory but it works and the medium aftertaste gains momentum embodying more of a leafy floral of fresh corn building through the cup.

With the leaves second rendez-vous with water, the brew sports a bit darker coif, more caramel toned and sassier to match with a medium bouquet. The scent is a bit sharper, seeming vinier for less coffee likeness, like unripe nuts or green walnuts from a bit more floral too, while at the same time, it could be a light coffee with cornflakes from a hit of sweetness. Although it has a roasty richness, it seems more wholesome than comforting or cuddly from the viney notes. There’s just as much chutzpah in the cup, as the light body extends with a full flavour. Not as hinting of sweet as the aroma, in the flow, the roasty flavour has some sass with a bite, perhaps astringency or acid. With a trace of fuel to the hearty roast flavour, the tea has a fabulously long aftertaste, finishing sweeter with a fruity nuttiness tinged with sour mulch.

Continuing the interlude, the third cup is just as dark in hue where the caramel starts to fade in the fourth. Both have a medium light bouquet, with a bit of roast continuing to interject charm in their sweet conversation. As the aromas get greener, the roast gets more nutty leafiness and less rich, bringing more roasted acorns and barley from a slight sharpness to the scent. The flavour is still complete with lighter coffee flavours, transfixed by grainier ones whose density is constrained by the acidity for an unripe quality. The aftertaste remains medium long with a sweet, roasted green corn husks.

Despite lighter hues, the tea still has much to hold one’s attention up to seven infusions. Actually, the fifth and sixth are almost nicer as the caramel-like sweetness mentioned in the tea’s description seems more tangible in the lighter bouquets and bodies amidst more cooked grain notes and flavours. The scents also get a touch powdery though, as the acidity still has some edges to the flavour and sweet green aftertaste, like green coffee beans. The seventh also has a light caramel tinged dry oat. The flavour is quite light but lightly sweet with a mapley sweet-sour flavour to match the scent although the light aftertaste isn’t as pleasing to seem almost chemical from the acidity remaining.

However, there’s certainly more to the leaves than just a pretty face and such an entertaining personality at that. Even with the generous amount of leaves used to brew, the tea still has impressive endurance. Naivetea’s Mu Zha Tie Guan Yin has even more to charm in its fine balance of roast and the tea’s innate character which delivers such delightful sweet, coffee flavours and aromas. I do find the acidity distracting though, as it seems to defray a full sink in comforting ease. But with all that sweet talk, long into the aftertaste, the tea aptly fuses the iron and goddess into one sultry glass.

— To purchase Naivetea Mu Zha Tie Guan Yin 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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