It is a rich, early Autumn day here. Beyond the window intermittent breezes shift wind chimes before sliding cool and fresh into the tea room. The house is quiet, the room still. It's a perfect time to sit with the Lishan Spirit tea from TTC.
Thanks for the impetus to sit with this tea. As I mentioned, I've been drinking a newly opened tin of Ming Gang Lishan (明岡梨山) tea, Winter harvest, 2012, bought in Taiwan last year during Chinese New Year. It is a quality high mt. tea that I enjoy very much. However, sitting to pour the TTC Lishan Spirit tea, I realize the two teas differ greatly from one another. The TTC Lishan Spirit tea is unique.
It is unlike the Ming Gang tea I have been pouring and unlike the Lishan tea we drank during Origin's OTTI 19. Many of Origin's teas were savory, umami, mouth watering, not brilliant on the front of the mouth flavor with a light perfume in the throat for the "huigan."
The TTC Lishan Spirit tea has a pleasant aroma, subtle, not overpowering immediately upon opening the foil bag. The leaves are in more or less evenly clustered blue green nuggets with the occasional bright, lime-green cluster. It's pretty. I weigh out 10g of leaf to pour in a Petr Novak 150ml, glazed (inside and out), medium-thick walled teapot. 10g is more than I would normally pour for this pot. Generally I pour 7.5 to 9.15 grams in the pot. I pour more grams to really get a sense of the tea.
I preheat my teapot, scent cups, and pourer. Immediately upon emptying the teapot of water I leave the lid on and open it only enough to allow me to empty the dry leaf clusters from the scoop into the pot, careful not to lose any heat. I replace the lid and allow the tea to "bake" for a minute. Opening the lid I am greeted with such a sweet, balsam, heady warm scent that genuinely, and curiously, reminds me of the quality TTC baozhong I have been drinking.
Next I do a quick (4 seconds) wash/opening of the leaves with 95deg C purified water, brewed in a Bonavita stainless tea kettle. After emptying the water I allow the leaves about 50 seconds to slowly open in the pot until all unfurl their grasp, softening slightly. Smelling the the now moist leaves I am greeted with a truly wonderful floral sweet scent. I leave my nose in the pot for some time...just taking it in.
I pour the tea, more or less, along the parameters of Ming Gang Lishan I've been drinking (same times, water/temp., and teaware) to give a clear comparison. I pour the first round with 95 deg. C water for 2 min. In the scent cup I am greeted with a wonderful profile. The attack in the scent cup is a lightly creamy, pillowy base followed by a subtle vegetal, then light fruit and floral, leading to a lasting sweet that lingers and lingers, even once the scent cup has gone cold.
The first sip is rich. The tea has no bitterness, a full mouth feel (飽滿bao3man3), is mouth watering, light fruit, floral, hits the top of my palate and moves straight to my throat with an instant and lingering huigan...entirely pleasant, lingering, fresh, and pleasing. The tea is rich in the throat but also in the mouth.
For my second round I pour slightly cooler (93 deg. C) at 1:45 sec. Third round I pour at 2:30, then 3:15, then 4:15, then 5:30, then 7:15, etc. The tea changes subtly throughout the pour but it has good durability, really wonderful throat/huigan and mouthfeel/taste. By the third and forth rounds the tea exhibits some more dry quality in the mouth but keeps its balance. In the scent cup and in the mouth the tea is very "fresh," distinctly clean. I really enjoy this tea. I've just gotten a bunch of tea in the last month, but now I'm going to have order more.
After the pour I clean the tea table to neutral and inspect the leaves; they are not as pretty/intact as some other teas I pour but they are noticeably thick and maintain their shape and consistency even after the many rounds poured.
All in all, the tea is sweet, floral, distinctly clean and fresh, with a wonderful huigan that lingers and lingers. It's bright and durable through rounds, with a subtle "dry" that emerges in later rounds. Even when the tea is moving toward sweet water it is still very enjoyable, flavorful. Usually with a tea, the huigan drops off with the later rounds. With this tea, it was still there, diminished but still present. I will definitely buy this tea again. Extremely pleasurable pour! I hope this helps. Let me know if I can answer any other questions about the tea. After I pour the tea again, I'll have some senses about it further clarified and will report back.