Hi all, I'm new. Long story short I used to be a tea bag drinker - Lipton, too! I'm sure my tea growing ancestors are rolling in their graves. It's okay, I'm ABC, they would understand. Then I began a life in San Francisco, where I discovered real tea.
The one tea that got me addicted to great whole leaf tea (yay, now I really own my Chinese-ness) was a 2005 LiShan from Red Blossom. It was buttery, thick, floral-vegetal first steepings followed by very fruity (especially peach-y) subsequent steeps. In 2006, both Winter and Spring LiShan were similarly fruity . 2007 delivered something that was more vegetal and dry for my taste so I did not drink much of it that year; instead I was recommended an Heirloom Shan Lin Xi (lower mountain and slightly cheaper than LiShan) that was heavily peach-y, mouth-watering floral like LiShan but slightly less buttery. I immediately loved the Shan Lin Xi, and was won over by the folks at Red Blossom, who showed that they rec and sell tea based on what you like, not necessarily push the most expensive variety. This year I sampled the 2008 Spring LiShan, and was again disappointed by the lack of fruitiness.
Anybody else notice the flavor changes in LiShan these few last years? Am I being too picky? Brewing it all wrong? In generall, high mountain oolongs seem to be described as buttery, floral, fragrant, fruity, sweet lingering aftertaste in the back of throat. I find that LiShan teas tend to be the most buttery and fragrant, with varying degrees of the other characteristics. Shan Lin Xi has been the fruitiest one I've had. Wen Shan Baozhong is the most floral and light-bodied. I SEEK THE FRUITY!
I'm still not ready to commit a yixing teapot, so my brewing vessel is a plain white porcelain gaiwan. I like seeing the deep green leaves opening up against the white background. I brew these teas at 170 - 180 degrees. I experimented with higher, up to 195, and this makes even the best ones come out tasting less sweet. I noticed that if by the 3 steep the leaves take on a yellow/brown tinge then the water was too hot.