Why Oolong in autumn?
Chinese tea drinkers say about when to drink what kind of tea “green in, red in winter, oolong anytime.”
Green tea, not fermented nor oxidised, is bitter in taste, cold in nature. It can clear inner heat, detoxify, quench thirst and strengthen the heart. Black tea (red tea in Chinese), fully oxidised, is sweet in taste, warm in nature. It can help improve appetite and digestion, is warming and reduces water retention. Oolong, semi oxidised, is neither cold nor hot, neutral in nature. It can clear heat like green tea and help digestion like black tea at the same time. Because of its properties in stimulating body fluid secretion, in TCM, it is seen as the best tea to combat the dryness in autumn.
Although Tieguanyin is produced from spring over summer, late summer until autumn, spring and autumn picks are the best. While spring Tieguanyin is more nourishing due to higher nutritional contents, autumn pick is much more aromatic, especially when picked 3 – 4 days before and after hanlu.
Instead of timing the brew with a stopwatch or sand clock, I prefer to time my brewing with my breath. Focusing on my breathing sharpens my awareness and gets me into a mindful state easily. My breath usually slow down as I count. In this state, I breathe around 10 times per minute. For this Tieguanyin, my favorite is 10 breaths for the first brew, 2nd and 3rd brew 8 breaths, 4th brew 9 breaths and 5th brew 10 breaths.
Personally I find brewing this tea at 95 degrees brings out the aroma nicely over 5 brews. The aroma leads the way into this tea. It has a round and full body in the mouth like cream, but minus the thickness. The aftersweetness, a signature flavour of Taiwanese high mountain oolong, follows through the body and intensifies in the throat after each brew.