This tea was a sample generously thrown in by Stéphane as part of my last order, and today I took the opportunity to polish off a second (and final) helping from the small gold packet. In upending the bag over my gaiwan I ended up using a bit more leaf than is my custom, and some of the little green balls really were quite small (read: broken up), but nonetheless this tea performed well.
Opening the bag releases a smooth, fresh, floral fragrance which is joined by a waft of roast on being heated in my gaiwan. The stream from my kettle pushes the leaves in concentric circles and as they slow I pour out the first infusion. The aroma cup gives up hints of lighter floral notes which never really open up in this initial infusion. The green tinted liquor feels thick in the mouth like a dilute starchy broth.
On the second infusion the aroma becomes slightly more developed as a slight leguminous character emerges in the tea. The mouthfeel is thick but not oily, a testament to its oxidation and roast. It takes a third infusion before the tea's aroma really opens, likely a result of short steeps taking more time to open the leaves and expose the buds to the water of the infusion. When pushed the tea's aroma becomes sweetly floral while the liquor becomes at once more beany and fruity.
Not much is present in terms of lasting aftertaste, though a slight minty coolness is initially noticeable, but it easy outlasted by the aforementioned mouthfeel.
It's the little things...
From about the fifth infusion some astringency develops, though it's worth noting that the leaf fragments that are part and parcel with bottom-of-the-bag tea are a significant factor in this. Following the emergence of dryness in taste, the leaves begin to lose their vivacity. For the first few infusions the tea had a noticeable green tint, but as the session progresses this quality is lost, leaving behind only a golden colour. This in itself is not a problem, but it provides an illustration of the ebb of the tea's energy, a quality which transcends taste and smell. On the whole, this tea has good endurance, though certainly not that of a high-level gaoshan oolong.
Stéphane's notes describe this tea as a good tea for the beginner or the daily cuppa, a statement I fully agree with. A pleasant fresh taste and aroma make this tea thoroughly enjoyable, though it may lack the essential vivacity, the enduring chaqi that makes extended gongfu sessions dedicated to fully experiencing a tea so worthwhile (for me at least). To put things in perspective, this jinxuan is less than half the price of its gaoshan cousin grown at an altitude 1400m on Ali Shan. On grounds of both price and, well, ground it hardly seems fair to hold up this jinxuan against one from Ali Shan, and for that reason I am quite content today sipping this good, simple, Taiwanese oolong.