Zhushan Organic Jin Xuan "Lily Fairy" Oolong Tea - Winter 2018Taiwan Sourcing
The Jin Xuan varietal has been absent for a while now, and we have been working really hard to find a plantation that can cleanly and completely demonstrate this elegant varietal's unique characteristics. It is very difficult to find a Jin Xuan plantation that is totally free from pesticides (or herbicides) and over-fertilization. We finally found one this winter, a plantation at Zhushan managed by Mr. Chen.
Mr. Chen's small plantation has been free from chemicals since the beginning, so the tea trees are not neatly distributed on the land. Instead the tea trees are growing sporadically among the wild and tall weeds. Most of the Jin Xuan tea trees have died because they could not bear Mr. Chen's semi-wild management, therefore leaving many blank spots in the plantation. However, the still surviving trees are the strongest under this "natural selection," so in theory the tea trees can deliver the purest Jin Xuan characteristics under the right processing method.
This was why we must be at the factory to make sure every step of processing followed the tradition. During the long night of careful processing, Mr. Chen revealed that he used to process tea in a very similar way under the instruction of his already deceased master, but he stopped doing so for pure economic reasons. "Nobody makes tea this way anymore." He added. Maybe this was why he and his wife were willing to work with us on creating this Jin Xuan using his unique material, a way to commemorate his teacher.
Our withering and waving process was finally finished at exactly 02:00 AM. Despite being very sleepy and tired, we had to wake up again at around 04:45 AM to make sure everything was on the right track. The very core concept of making a great tea is simple - to insist the care for details even when your body is crying for a good rest, while staying sober enough to notice the nuanced transformation of teh tea. Eventually the draft tea was completed at around 07:30 AM, but it's not fully completed yet. The draft tea still needed to be sent to our charcoal roasting master for the refinement, which took about two months to complete. This is a process that nearly all our teas have to go through before they can be offered to tea lovers around the globe.
People have been calling Jin Xuan "Milky Oolong" by tea lovers, and we think that is not accurate for a fully processed Jin Xuan varietal. What you can find in this "Lily Fairy" is something completely different from anything out there. It has a clean buttery like aroma in your inner nostrils but with a silky body in the mouth. It also has a smooth sugarcane aftertaste we never experienced before from a Jin Xuan varietal. If you have been missing a great Jin Xuan in your collection, we are confident that our "Lily Fairy" can satisfy that need!
Harvest: Winter 2018 / 冬 貳零壹捌
Varietal: Jin Xuan / 金萱
Elevation: 200 M / 貳佰 公尺
Region: Zhushan / 竹山
Fermentation Level: 25% / 分之 廿伍
Roast Level: 1~3 / 壹 至 參 分
Ready to brew!
Beautiful subtle and evocative florals and greenery on the nose from the heated gaiwan.
Wet leaf initially reminded me of a diverse wild rose garden, juiciness and yet still hints to unknown depths. Floral but dancing and evading the mind, looking only to be perceived with heart. Fairies don't show themselves outright, yet their fluttering leaves a scented trail.
This tea is graceful. My most appreciated sense experiences are ones that through contact with the object (tea, music, incense) the sense itself has a returning element. The going out is as much a returning within.
The roasted version has a bit more upfront in aroma and sweetness. The Taiwan Sourcing 'roast master' also has his own kind of nuanced touch that I'm beginning to appreciate more and more. The roasting brings out more of what the tea
wants, as opposed to adding flavor. Quite exquisite really.
I started with temp around 200 for the first brew then lowered to around 195-7 then raised the temp slowly over 5-6 rounds. Used 7 grams in 130ml gaiwan.
It has been a while since Taiwan Sourcing carries any Jin Xuan varietal, so naturally an old dog was very excited to try this newly designed oolong. To an old dog's surprise, this is not that kind of "blow you away" tea, but instead it gently delivers an experience that has been missing in this market for a long time. Unlike previous Jin Xuan which delivered a pungent aroma like a punch into your face, our "Lily Fairy" acts like its name suggests, dances like a fairy with no aggression. The subtleness will make one wonder what is the true meaning of tea savouring, and what are we pursuing as a tea lover. Is it simply about the taste of a tea? Or something about subtleness and serenity? Our "Lily Fairy" is not an answer to that question, but it makes one ponder, while taking another sip of it.