Though I've been in hiatus, I've been taking some tea notes along the way, which I can share with you now that I'm back up and running.
Tasting notes on Huang Jin Gui Wu Long, from Canton Tea Company
Steeping 1: 25s, all about scent.
Beautiful, golden liquor, with a distinctly fruit-floral aroma that eluded me until I read the liner notes, which stated that this tea is reminiscent and named after the osmanthus flower for both its color and scent. And, yes, this does somewhat remind me of osmanthus-infused oolongs, which I've tasted a number of times in the past.
Steeping 2: 20s, with attitude
The second steeping is quite often the best when drinking oolongs: the leaves have been awakened, but they still retain the potency and have not been diminished in any measurable way. When tasting a tea such as this, it's important to remember that the tea changes in the pot as you drink, revealing a changing character as it breathes. This tea definitely wakes up with the second steeping, and the fruity flavor is accompanied by an astringency that makes the golden infusion take on a brightness on the tongue. Quite delicious. If I were to give this tea a musical label, I would say she is a mezzo-soprano, with plenty of high (but not overly high) notes and a powerful middle register. There is little to no bitterness, and I can't discern any distinguishing low notes (which one would usually associate with, say, an Assam or other black teas). It's quite strong and bright, like hot sunlight filtered through a latticework screen.
Steeping 3 and onward: 20s, 45s, &c
[Author's note: I didn't take notes on the third steeping and onward, being that my life frequently interferes with a properly meditative environment for tea-taking. That being said, the third steeping was delightful, though thinning, stretching out a bit. True to form, that second steeping was the highlight of the gongfu session, and from then on I fought to keep the pot hot enough to extract the flavors from the tea. I was able to get about six pots of tea from this, until I got busy enough that I was unable to continue. The tea outlasted my life's ability to sit still in one place long enough.]
I love how teas can taste like so many things: osmanthus flower aroma, in this case, even though an osmanthus never came in contact with these leaves. If only people realized how teas are like roses, with more varieties and subtleties than a single person can experience in a lifetime.
Lovely tea, Canton Tea. Thanks!