Help with Ali Shan


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Help with Ali Shan

Postby garrettmc » Aug 7th, '11, 00:46

Hey guys. I just got in my order of Ali Shan oolong today and it's the first oolong I've ever tried. However, for the price, I'm not impressed. Everyone's descriptions talk about some kind of sweetness but I can't find it anywhere nor can I find any sense of a floral or really fruity taste. The only thing I really sense is . . . grass and burned spinach.

My first attempt:
1st steep: 212 F for 5 minutes: ok but nothing special. slightly bitter but not sweet at all. reminds me of a weak dragonwell?
2nd steep: 212 for 7 minutes: too bitter to drink
3rd steep: 195 for around 4-5 mins: this was the best steep but I simply drank it as there was not really much to appreciate

What do you guys recommend? I really wanna like this oolong and find that sweetness! thanks :D
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby debunix » Aug 7th, '11, 00:52

Where did you get the tea? As long as the quality is reasonable, you should be able to get some really nice sweetness.

The next step is to figure out a combination of leaf quantity and timing that works for you.

I usually start with about 1 gram of leaf per ounce/30mL water (weight is more accurate than volume, which depends on the tightness of rolling of the leaf), and with that ratio, I prefer an initial infusion of 30-60 seconds.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby garrettmc » Aug 7th, '11, 01:15

I got the tea from Adagio and from what I can tell it seems to be of pretty good quality. I'm using the IngenuiTEA and brewing 1 heaping teaspoon in around 8 oz of water. Should I add more leaves?
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Chip » Aug 7th, '11, 01:29

Less water and more leaf ... IMHO.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby garrettmc » Aug 7th, '11, 01:31

So maybe tomorrow i'll try 2 tsp for 8 oz? but won't the leaves be crazy crowded haha?
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Chip » Aug 7th, '11, 01:34

After several steeps, that is what you should be looking for. I would still use less water as well. Less water means less leaf. Plus you should get pretty many steeps out of it.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby debunix » Aug 7th, '11, 01:37

Another easy thing to do, regardless of the quantity of leaf you're using, is to start by testing your infusion at different times--pour out just a sip after 30 seconds, taste it, let the rest keep steeping a minute, pour out a sip again, let the rest keep steeping a bit longer, pour out a test sip again, etc, and stop infusing when you enjoy it.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby garrettmc » Aug 7th, '11, 01:38

Thanks so much you guys! I'll try your suggestions after I wake up and let you know how it went!
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Tead Off » Aug 8th, '11, 05:53

debunix wrote:Another easy thing to do, regardless of the quantity of leaf you're using, is to start by testing your infusion at different times--pour out just a sip after 30 seconds, taste it, let the rest keep steeping a minute, pour out a sip again, let the rest keep steeping a bit longer, pour out a test sip again, etc, and stop infusing when you enjoy it.

This doesn't really give you a complete picture of the taste profile because the tea will taste differently depending on the location of the liquid in the pot. Usually it comes off the top which is the weakest part of the infusion. Since the poster is new to tea, they will not know how to judge if the brew is ready using this method. Since oolongs give many brews, why not start off with shorter brew times and increase them to understand what happens to the tea when left to brew longer.
Personally, 20 seconds in a 100ml vessel with 5g of leaf should be a reasonable starting point. Often I brew for less time and I get wonderful fruit out of Gaoshan. But, not all gaoshan have this fruit. Many have a grassy or grainy profile. Both can be good but you have to start off with a good tea in order to know what the flavor profile can be like.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 8th, '11, 06:17

Tead Off wrote:
debunix wrote: ...........is to start by testing your infusion at different times--pour out just a sip after 30 seconds, taste it, .........

This doesn't really give you a complete picture of the taste profile because the tea will taste differently depending on the location of the liquid in the pot. Usually it comes off the top which is the weakest part of the infusion. ....................


+1 Exactly what I thought, when I first read this.

But on re-reading

debunix wrote:........, taste it, let the rest keep steeping a minute, pour out a sip again, let the rest keep steeping a bit longer, pour out a test sip again, etc, and stop infusing when you enjoy it.


I realised we are talking about much, much lower leaf to water ratios than any that I use. With the high packing densities that I use, initial infusions tend to be 10 to 20 seconds, and sometimes much lower than 10 with Yancha.

With high densities this approach would be madness, but with very very low densities there can be some sense in this approach!
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby debunix » Aug 8th, '11, 10:43

Since the original post mentioned five minute infusions with boiling water, tasting a little here and a little there is both practical and would be a crude but useful guide to see whether there are earlier times where there is a more desirable flavor that later gets overwhelmed by oversteeping, particularly based on the first description of the steeps.

Obviously this is not going to work with a packed gaiwan and 10 second steeps, and no, the tea will not be as fully representative as if the entire contents of the teapot were poured out, a sip taken of that, and then returned to the teapot, but it is something I have done on occasion with western-style brewing, especially when on the road, dealing with unfamiliar tea steeping in unknown temperature water, and it works better than guessing.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Tead Off » Aug 8th, '11, 11:03

The only times I have ever done this is with western style brewing of Darjeelings where steep times can average 5minutes. I wholeheartedly agree that tasting a little here and there is useful, but, only for the seasoned tea drinker that knows how to brew tea. For someone new, they won't know what to really expect. But, I guess you gotta start somewhere.

I am wondering why someone brews oolongs for 5 minutes? Is it just to drink a larger cup of tea? So much of the flavor and aroma are lost this way. You lose the fullness of the tea. But, if that is the way someone prefers it, so be it, I guess.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby teaisme » Aug 8th, '11, 14:43

One of my first memorable tea moments was outside, brewing in a large old yixing about 450ml-500ml, pouring two cups at a time, 20mlish each, starting at about 30seconds and no idea how long the last two cups were in there for.
It went from light to heavy in a very good way. The tea wasn't what some people would call very high quality, but it was perfect for the place,wares, time, and mindset.

The tea did taste natural though, adagio alishan did not, at least the last time I had it a couple years back.

Perhaps I would look to a vendor that specializes in taiwanese tea if you want taiwanese tea. There are some good domestic vendors in the US too, so fast shipping and communication are not an issue.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Victoria » Aug 8th, '11, 17:15

The conversation gets muddied up a bit here because of the two distinctly different brewing methods being discussed.

Keeping in mind that you are brewing your tea "English" style in a "pot" (even though it is an ingenuitea) I would suggest the same ratio (or perhaps a bit less than heaping), but for no more than 3 mins. The next steep 5 mins.

This year's Ali Shan seems to be less floral - assuming it is this year's crop.
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Re: Help with Ali Shan

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 8th, '11, 17:29

Hello Victoria, long time no see, are you keeping well?
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