I knew there is a vast world of oolong tea out there and Taiwanese oolongs are those that I have explored the least. Luckily, I got hold of this oolong which was an exceptional experience despite that the quantity was low, and I have already finished it. When I write reviews, I like smelling the dry leaves over and over again, this time, I do not have that luxury. However, I kept the infused leaves in my luggage (I was travelling), and when I found them after a couple of days, they still smelt heavenly. I was tempted to re-steep them, but I did not.
When I first steeped this tea, I had hot water in my thermos, which was not warm enough to infuse this tea. Therefore, all the aromas and tastes were faint. Next time when I had a chance to re-steep this tea, I realised that its liquid should be cupper colour for the best-tasting experience. I achieved this colour with boiling water and at least two minutes steeping at the beginning as it took a while for the leaves to unfurl. The wet leaves had a very flowery aroma while the liquor also tasted smoky and lingering honey-sweet. This might be the sweetest oolong I have ever had. I was thinking about what the reason would be.
The answer is in nature. Similar to Bai Hao (oriental beauty) oolong, the buds of this Gui Fei were also bitten by a leafhopper species who leave a white mark it leaves behind. Their intervention results in live oxidation while the leaves are still on the stem making the leaf to develop a honey-life flavour and aroma. It is also worth to mention that these leafhoppers would not visit these plants if any pesticides were in use.
Overall, this was a fabulous example of a Taiwanese oolong with high oxidation and low roasting. I will get hold of more when I am back in China. Hopefully, soon.
Origin: Lugu, Nantou, Taiwan
Harvest time: April 2018
Leave colour: Tones of dark brown
Liquor colour: Cupper
Tea aroma: Smoky with tobacco and floral notes
Tea taste: Lingering sweet honey taste with accompanying floral and smoky notes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water temperature and brew for about two minutes in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 2 years or more (some keep it in the fridge to improve the shelf life but for this you need to ensure that the tea is tightly sealed)