My friend DongQin in Quanzhou City, Anxi County, China was very generous in sending me fresh samples of her family’s Ti Guan Yin from the recent Autumn harvest at Xin Yuan Tea Garden. For those of you who have been following me for a while, the TieGuanYin from this specific garden is the only Ti Guan Yin that I keep stocked in my personal supply. I usually purchase a kilogram of the spring harvest and a kilogram of the autumn harvest. The summer harvest is considered the least impressive, and given the cost of shipping such small quantities, I choose to pass on purchasing the summer harvest.
For more information on the Xin Yuan Tea Garden, click here to go to the introductory page at The Tea Journeyman Shop.
The sample packet has been opened, and I never get tired of this scent. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a fresh, bright green to dark forest green color. The leaves are all detached from the stems, and there are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves are mostly whole leaves, and some large fragments. The leaves are hand plucked, and rolled into oblong balls. The leaves appear to be light on the oxidation level, and I am guessing about 20%, give or take 5%. The scent is incredibly fresh and strong, with clear smells of orchid flowers, honeydew melon, unsweetened milk, and light brown sugar. The scent is simply phenomenal.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:30 minutes for the first infusion, 1:30 for the second, and add 15 seconds to subsequent infusions. Expect four or more quality infusions from the same serving of leaves. Also, another noteworthy quality of this Ti Guan Yin is that it is quite forgiving in terms of brewing parameters. Don’t worry if you allow the leaves to sit in the water for a couple of minutes longer than suggested, the taste may not be optimal, but it will still be quite pleasant.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a very bright, lively yellowish-jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma again is amazing, with scents of butter, orchid flowers, honeydew melon, light peach, and light steamed leafy vegetable. The body is medium, with a buttery, creamy, rich, and smooth texture. The taste has notes of honeydew melon, orchid flowers, butter, light peach, light mineral (wet stone), and very light steamed leafy vegetable. There is a very mild astringency. The aftertaste is quite possibly the best part of an overall phenomenal tea. The notes of honeydew melon and orchid flowers linger on the breath for minutes after the tea is swallowed.
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. There is some slight red showing on a few of the leaves’ edges, as well as a few light red spots on other areas of a few of the leaves. I would still guess the oxidation level is about 20%. Many of the leaves a whole, while the remainder are large fragments. The leaves have a hearty, leathery texture, which the TieGuanYin cultivar is known for. The leaves have a fairly uniform length of about two inches (51 mm) and a width of about one inch (25 mm). All leaves are completely detached from the stem, and there are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The smell carries scents of orchid flowers, butter, honeydew melon, and steamed leafy vegetables. The smell is certainly sweeter and more floral as the leaves cool.
It is no secret that I am completely smitten by the Ti Guan Yin Oolong Teas from Xin Yuan Tea Garden. I have told my tea tasting audiences time and time again when asked if I had to choose only one tea to drink for the rest of my life, that the Autumn harvest Ti Guan Yin from Xin Yuan would be the easy choice. I do not have many Yixing teapots, two to be exact, but one is used specifically for this product from this tea garden. The Autumn 2014 harvest continued to impress, with the incredible orchid, butter, and honeydew scents and tastes that won my preference in 2013. The appearance of both the dry and wet leaves, and the liquor itself, tells the story of how much care and attention the Lin family puts in to their garden and products.Another harvest, and another superior Ti Guan Yin Oolong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden!
Thanks again to DongQin Lin from Xin Yuan Tea Garden for providing these fresh and phenomenal samples! Cheers!
By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig