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2023 Wenshan Traditional Tie Guan Yin Oolong

$23.00$63.00

Peach-vanilla-orchid vapors lift out of the gaiwan to greet the senses as a soothing, sweet, and complex nectar rolls around the jowls.  As the cup's temperature softens, the broth reveals a bready, sultry, cooling charm.  The orchidy spiced aroma continues to linger on the surfaces of the empty cup and gaiwan lid.  A tea with class; the dignity and care that went into this tea is obvious yet understated.

Influenced by Taiwanese high mountain oolong production styles, modern Anxi County Tie Guan Yin trends in Fujian can obsess over replicating light-oxidized, unroasted iterations, leaving one to find that often, ironically enough, Taiwanese Tie Guan Yin as the one more intent on watering the true roots of this legendary oolong production style.  We adore the clutch finesse found in the balance of a light to medium amount of both oxidation as well as roasting in traditional TGY style, and the Bai family nails it.

This family, like some other Baozhong producers, migrated to the Pinglin / Wenshan area from the home of TGY in Anxi county 5 generations ago.  With the spirit of experimentation funneling into their competition grade Baozhong, their Tie Guan Yin production on the other hand is a decided homage to their earlier mainland roots, deliberately underlining traditional production methodology.

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before further oxidation (and eventual roasting) Senior Mr. Bai pulled some freshly processed TGY off the drying racks and brewed it up for us. 

Alongside Baozhong and Dong Ding styles, 鐵觀音 tiě guān yīn varietal oolong arrived to island in the late 1800s and was seminal to Taiwan's tea culture.  The cultivar was 紅心歪尾桃 hóng xīn wāi wěi táo "Red Heart Crooked Tail Peach" and is still used by the Bai family, resisting newer 'improved' cultivars despite the heritage germplasm's lower yield, later harvest time, and temperamental nature in terms of demanding greater attention both horticulturally as well as in its production-craft.

After the tea is shaped and dried, painstaking attention to detail is demanded to properly roast this tea.  The Bai family shared that they subject the tea to a series of low temperatures mini-roasts, with resting periods of up to a week in between each session.  The roasts start out at 80° Celsius for nearly a full day's time, and end at a higher temperature of 115° for just 6 hours.  Even though the tea sees just 70-80 hours of actual fire time, it takes over six weeks to complete this step of advanced roasting, and is still considered just a medium level roast.

Properly produced and stored TGY is thought to have some ability to settle and improve with age, especially in the first 2-3 years.  Here you can read (towards the end) why storing oolong to be aged can be precarious in much of the humid  tea lands in Asia, yet fairly straightforward in parts of the West, where some climates are more suitable for this particular genre of tea.  As of the time of writing this page this tea is approaching the one year mark, and is coming into itself beautifully.

We hope you will enjoy this exceptional oolong!

 

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