As November rolls in quickly after the hype and fanfare of Halloween, there is a subtle shift in the air. If you aren't paying attention, you'll wake up one day and wonder where the early morning chill came from or realize you suddenly need to switch the climate control to 'heat.'
But if you've been paying attention, you'll notice the temperatures dip a little lower, a little colder each evening. You'll pull on PJ pants one night rather than PJ shorts, then reach for an extra throw for the bed the next night, and then for an extra blanket the next. Mornings have that delicious chill. The kind that invites you to sit outside on the patio with that hot cup of tea, because the juxtaposition of hot hands and cold feet is suddenly perfectly balanced.
I enjoy those subtleties, and maybe that's why I enjoyed The Devotea's Ali Shan Oolong during these increasingly cool mornings. Oolongs in general, I find, are floral and perfume-y, usually in a good way. But this Ali Shan, which is one of the more refined oolongs, holds back and is rich in subtleties.
The steeped liquid is pale yellow and is as smooth as the fog that envelopes the tea plants in the Central Mountain range of Taiwan. The floral quality is exceptionally light, and there is a mild sweetness that lingers. It is not a bold or brash tea, nor is it meant to be. Steeping it longer will intensify the flavor but not the astringency, which is always a good thing in my book (and because I tend to oversteep everything!)
This Ali Shan is a perfect and gentle introduction to Oolongs for the reluctant explorer. And as the holidays approach, it could be the perfect gift for that special someone who enjoys tea. Go ahead - indulge in something subtle and sublime.