Tea Tasting #1: Alishan Competition Qing Xin Oolong (Curious Tea)
What better way to start the new year than with a proper tea tasting? That’s right, nothing can beat that. I usually drink green and Puerh teas but I wanted to mix things up by tasting an oolong tea I’ve had since September. I took a three month subscription of the Curious tea subscription box because I wanted to know what this subscription had to offer. I won’t go into detail about this here but the Qing Xin oolong tea was included in September’s box. It was one of the four teas of that month. The other three were Darjeeling Gopaldhara Sencha, Dan Cong Shui Xian Oolong and Tumoi Nandi Hills Black tea.
Alishan Competition Qing Xin
Like I said, this tea was one of the teas in Curious tea’s subscription box of September. It is described as “a beautiful competition grade oolong crafted from a Green Heart cultivar grown high up in the famous Alishan Scenic Area.” (link). The Alishan area in Taiwan is in Chiayi County in the centre of the country. This area is famous for its spectacular views and many tea estates. This particular batch was from the 2018 Spring harvest.
The tea leaves are lightly baked so the floral notes of the cultivar are still present. “In theory”, this tea should have creamy, buttery and floral notes. This seemed an interesting combination and that is why I picked this tea for my first proper tea tasting of the new year.
Competition Qing Xin
What about the competition? Did this tea win any competitions? In a way it did win something. Each year, there is a competition in Taiwan to see which teas are the best teas of that particular season and this tea received Fine Grade. In 2018, 733 teas participated in this competition. From these 733, 20 won First Grade, 31 Second Grade, 45 Third Grade and around 344 received Fine Grade. So it has won something at this competition but it was not the first prize.
This is a map made by Curious Tea. It shows the location of Chiayi County in Taiwan. The Alishan area is more or less in the centre.
- Water 90°C
- 5,5g of tea leaves for 150ml glass teapot
- 1 rinse
- 6 steeps
The smell of the leaves is amazing! One can smell creamy flowers, buttery notes and even the smell of fresh pastries is noticeable.
1st steep: floral notes at the start followed by a subtle creamy aftertaste. The aftertaste was very subtle so this steep was mainly floral notes.
2nd steep: the floral notes at the start were a bit stronger. These floral notes were followed by light creamy floral notes in the middle and a stronger floral finish. It’s quite interesting that the creamy notes were only noticeable in the middle.
After this steep, I started to notice the increased astringency of this tea. When finishing a cup, I immediately got a dry mouth.
3rd steep: heavy floral notes at the start followed by very subtle creamy notes in the middle. These creamy notes were not as strong as they were during the 2ndsteep. The finish of this steep is floral all the way.
4th steep: it starts subtle so no heavy flavours at the start. Floral notes start to appear and gradually diminish again. It also has a light floral aftertaste. Interesting enough, this steep does not have any hints of creaminess or buttery flavours, unfortunately. The creaminess is what made me taste this tea in the first place.
5th steep: no heavy flavours at the start. Increasing floral notes leading to a floral aftertaste.
6th steep: this was the final steep as the tea leaves gave me everything they had. No heavy flavours at the start, very subtle floral notes without any aftertaste.
If you look at these six steeps, you can see the slight difference in colour. A light yellow colour for the first steep. From the second steep onwards, it gets a bit darker. The sixth steep is lighter again.
I’m quite happy with the results of my first tea tasting of 2019. This Qing Xin was a tea I’ve had for a while and I’m delighted I did a proper tasting of it. Personally, the first three steeps were the best because I really liked the creamy flavours. I’m not really into oolong teas but I really liked this one. That is why my final score of this tea is 9/10. If I run out of tea and want to buy some new oolongs, this one will definitely be the first one on my list. Or even if I am looking for a good tea to serve with a sweet dessert such as a freshly baked strawberry cream pie or just any pie with a lot of whipped cream.
Interested in buying this tea? Go to Curious Tea’s online store: https://www.curioustea.com/tea/oolong-tea/alishan-competition-qing-xin-oolong/
Serving tip: serve it with sweet desserts such as strawberry cream pies or just any pastry with whipped cream.