This Honey Orchid fragrance Oolong is a medium oxidized tea hand crafted on Phoenix Mountain near Chaozhou, China. Picking day was April 8th at a high mountain altitude of 1000m. The fragrance and flavor both carry Honey Orchid with a hint of ripe passion fruit and purple Iris.
Weather there influences tea quality more than tea from anywhere else we carry. The biggest problem is rain, which can quickly plunge a great tea down to an ordinary level. Of course you need rain for the tea to grow, but just not on the picking or processing days. One rainy day followed by 2-3 sunny days is the ideal scenario and definitely worth the wait.
We only buy mao cha—meaning something like unfinished tea. This necessitates we are on the mountain tasting tea every day during the 2 months long spring picking season, but ensures we get the finest quality tea. The extra care, time and expense show through in every cup.
The real benefit of buying mao cha is customizing the final baking step to bring out the fragrance and flavor we want. For this tea our goal is to achieve the strongest, purest Honey Orchid characteristics that can be coaxed out of it. Adjusting the temperatures, the time and the turning frequencies will achieve just that.
The five growers we work with, like nearly every other high quality grower on Phoenix Mountain, pick tea one day, finish it by the next morning and sell it out that same day. Some rare teas are even booked years in advance. So we are there every day checking the flavor, aroma and color of the semi-finished tea leaves. If they pass we get that day's harvest, if not no problem as we will eagerly be there again the next day.
Storage: Store unused portions sealed in an airtight bag away from sunlight in the freezer at 5F/-15C or below.
Brewing water: Earth2O brand mineral water most closely matches the slightly hard natural spring water on Phoenix Mountain and produces the finest results. Soft water, distilled water and hard water will ruin this tea. Tap water varies wildly and is best avoided as well.
Brewing temperature: 99-100C/210-212F
Brewing method: 3-5g tea leaves (~1-2 heaping Tablespoons), 60-80ml (~1/4-1/3 cup) water each time with quick infusions in a Chinese gaiwan or a small pot.
Notes: Small quick infusions showcase the changing flavors of each cup. Longer brewing times in larger quantities of water end up more homogeneous, but still very good results.