Origin: Wuyi Shan, China
Vendor: The Tea Gallery (Product page)
Price: $18.00 (25g)
A few weeks ago I wrote about The Tea Gallery's 2006 Tie Luo Han; this is it's younger brother. I would be interested to know if they were both made from the same farm and/or producers; they are similar enough compared to other Tie Luo Han sold by other vendors that I would believe it. (To briefly recap, I wrote that the 2006 is a mineral powerhouse which is very interesting but not terribly approachable or well-suited for casual brewing.)
The dry leaf smells of caramel, bright tropical fruit, and copper. The lid aroma was mostly floral, but a bit of the mineral/copper character can be found here too. It's not quite as powerful as a good dancong, but "dancong-like" isn't far from a good description of this tea's fragrance.
The first few infusions are quite unlike the 2006; they are sweet like caramel, floral, and ethereal. The only thing that links the two so far is the above-average mineral aftertaste which grounds the otherwise flighty flavor nicely. After the first few though, the similarities between this and the 2006 become much more obvious; the earthy mineral flavor comes into focus and the caramel/floral sweetness tapers off, though if brewed with a lighter hand some sweetness remains to cut through the strong minerals. I also played around with the altitude at which I poured from the kettle: pouring a thin stream from high above the leaves seems to brighten the flavor a bit.
This tea has a lovely cha qi. It brings peace without being overly intoxicating or jarring, though it has the potential to lay you out if you don't pace yourself. This is a tea worth sipping slowly, anyway.
If the price doesn't bother you too much, this should be on your short-list of teas to try. It is more approachable than the 2006 (though my experiences with the 2009 make me want to revisit that one soon) but still strongly expresses the same mineral character. This is yet another lovely tea from The Tea Gallery— but really, is anyone all that surprised? :)