Hey there Teacups! I’m back today with another Stateside Steeps post and this time around I’m going to be reviewing Masters Teas – 2019 Ali Shan Special (Oolong). As in sure you’re all aware by now I’ve had nothing but absolutely fantastic experiences with all of the teas I’ve tried up until now from Masters Teas. I’ve got a few left from the amazing selection they very kindly sent me to try last year. The reason I chose to review this one today is because quite frankly oolong is a tea I drink too relax and I think with everything going on in the USA today all of my stateside teacups could with some relaxing anxiety reducing vibes sent their way.
Here’s what Masters Teas themselves have to say about this tea over on their website: “Our Ali Shan Special is buttery and amazingly rich. It brews a very complex, silky cup that speaks of its high altitude origin and beautiful tender leaves. A truly satisfying cup for anyone partial to oolongs.”
“It is typical for tea farmers in Taiwan to harvest their crops five times a year. However, Ali Shan and other high mountain teas are only harvested twice a year. This is usually done in October and June. The picking standard consists of 2 to 4 young, hand-plucked leaves. They are then withered, reducing the moisture content and then oxidized using bamboo trays.”
“The leaves are then processed in cloth bags, which are rolled, removing any residual moisture and stopping oxidation. A classic Ali Shan is usually oxidized to around 30 or 40 percent, yielding a light-medium oolong.”
Tea Tasting Notes
For this tasting session I used 95°c filtered water and my 250ml porcelain gaiwan. My first steep was 30s, after that up until steep 3 I added 10s onto the time for each steep. I added 20s onto the time for the fourth steep and every steep afterwards. For me this was the best way to work the Steeps for this tasting session I know there will be people who will probably tell me I’m doing it wrong but it’s what worked for me and I’m the only one drinking it so really that’s all that matters.
My aim for this tasting session was to try and make it as relaxing as possible so I tried to focus on nothing but the tea and preparing it though I was also listening to She & Him for the whole duration. It didn’t really take my mind off of the tea though and helped me to relax a little more as well. I highly recommend playing your favourite music during tasting sessions and trying to match it to either your intentions for the tasting session or the tea itself.
Steep 1) This first steep I did for 30 seconds and the resulting cup was light, silky, buttery, sweet, subtlety floral and has an almost baked goods quality to it. The only way I can describe that note is that it tastes a little like freshly baked un-iced sugar cookies. I was expecting that at all but loved it.
Steep 2) Similar to the first steep but slight less sweet a little more floral (very lily like) and the vegetal note I was able to pick out in the dry Aroma started to come through more. Its still buttery and silky though and I love it for that. It’s definitely the most naturally sweet oolong I’ve had in a while.
Steep 3) Still quite naturally sweet, much more floral, much more vegetal (the vegetal note starts sweet at the front of the mouth but gets a little more umami towards the back of the mouth , still silky and buttery, ever so slight nuttiness but that baked goods note all but disappeared in this steep. I wasn’t sad about that though because its still a delightful cup even without that.
Steep 4) This was very similar to the 3rd steep but it was a little more floral and the sweetness did start to waver a little bit. That nuttiness was still in there slightly though and a hint of earthiness. It’s still buttery but towards the back of the mouth it was slightly dry. That wasn’t off putting at all though and didn’t really effect my overall enjoyment.
Steep 5) Still somewhat sweet, smooth, floral, light vegetal, that drying note thankfully did not continue into this steep and it was just as smooth as the first few. Still subtly buttery and silky smooth. Again there was still a hint of nuttiness and and underpinning of earthiness to it.
Steep 6) Very similar to the fifth steep and had all of the same notes but a little lighter and probably to me its last good we rounded steep hence why I stop my tasting session here. Thought I do really regret not taking the leave from this tasting session and cold Brewing them for a while afterwards as I think that would have been delicious.
Definitely on the lighter side for an oolong but has has many layers of depth to its overall flavour profile. There were some notes that came through that I was not expecting at all and honestly I’ve been drinking some heavier fall teas recently and this was a nice light breath of fresh air amist them all. Its definitely one I would purchase again as I would be really interested to see how it changes over a few different years and harvests.
Overall Teacup Rating: 5/5
If you want to find out more about Adagio’s Masters Teas and purchase some of this tea to try for yourself, you can do both here. As always if you have any questions at all either stick them in the comments or send them to me on Twitter/Instagram @teaisawishblog and I’ll answer them all as soon as I can.
Speak to you all again soon. Happy Steeping – Kimberley
*the tea featured in this post was gifted to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and have not been paid for*