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We've just updated our stocks of Old Iron from Anxi tea master Su Wei Bo, and we felt it was about time we put down some detailed tasting and brewing notes for this tea. The vintage we're tasting now is just new in (limited stocks!) and has a milder roast and sweeter fragrance than previous batches.
We're using our standard white gong fu cha teaset here - a 100ml gaiwan, simple ceramic cups and our Bamboo tea table. The water is just off the boil (around 95 degrees) and we don't reboil it between brews, so it will probably drop to around 75-80 degrees for the later brews. For this tea we're using 7g of our 2007 'Old Iron' Aged Oolong by Su Wei Bo.
The dry leaves have a pleasant and pretty familiar Oolong smell - the mi xiang (蜜香, "honey fragrance") that Su mentioned is obvious at once. As always, Old Iron doesn't have the most attractive of leaves; a faded green colour. They're lighter and clearly less deeply roasted than other Old Iron's we've tasted.
The first brew is a short one - 30 seconds tops - because we know Old Iron quickly becomes quite strong and heady. The liquor is a light green colour, the leaves smell punchy and alive yet still quite nicely closed. As expected the taste isn't very strong, but the back-of-the-mouth taste hangs around for quite a long time. Let's go for a second brew, and see that taste develop a bit more.
OK, now the taste is kicking off! The liquor is a deeper yellow now, and the leaves have opened up a bit more now - we steeped for about 1 minute this time. The taste is much more open and rounded now, with distinct top, tongue and back-of-mouth feelings. There's the 'spicy' and bubbly taste I always associate with roasted oolongs, and at the back of the mouth comes the sweetness. It's peachy, subtle and there are hints of something like coconut too.
The leaves are fully opened now, and we've gone for a longer steep now (the water is cooling down, and the taste usually rounds off a bit after the first few brews). The liquor has settled into a deep yellow colour, and the full flavour has come out. The fruityness is now accompanied by the not unpleasant tannic taste, and there's a more joined together full-mouth feeling which is quite smooth and solid. Remember, sometimes drinking Chinese tea is just as much about the 'mouth feel' as the taste.
We keep brewing this one up until the 5th brew before discarding it. It's a much milder, less aggressive taste than previous batches, which I appreciate personally. Although I absolutely love Old Iron, I've been off it for a while because it tends to be very 'raw' and heady. This version is refined, and it allows you to drink it fearlessly!
Tea for me is all about that "aha" moment when you try a truly great tea for the first time. I live in Fuzhou, China and enjoy anything that helps me appreciate Chinese culture more (currently tea, martial arts and history books!). Contact me on email@example.com