Li Shan Oolong at Camellia Sinensis Tea House
Since I started my blog, I’ve always wanted to do a ‘’in house’’ review of a tea, including in the overall picture the atmosphere, the staff, the service, etc. So here I was, at Camellia Sinensis tea house on Emery street, in Montreal’s Quartier Latin. I came in right when they opened, and took a seat at the bar. Always wanted to sit here since the first time I went. Let’s get to it !
When I sat at the bar, the server gave me a menu and a small cup of japanese green tea to get things started. The tea house menu is quite vast, even though there were teas missing because they were out of stock. From white to Pu Erh to tisanes, everybody can get something they like. Amongst other things, they offer fresh pastries made in house, and a nice selection of chocolates and cheese pairing with teas. For every tea, you can ask for it to be brewed in a western style teapot, or you can brew it yourself in a Yixing teapot or a gaiwan. The server makes sure to give you the exact brewing time of each steep for gong fu cha. I ordered a green taiwanese oolong (Li Shan) in a Yixing teapot.
The brewing parameters were a bit out of my control. The water I was given was boiling hot. I don’t know exactly how much leaf was used, but it was brewed in a small Duan ni Yixing clay teapot. The brewing time will vary from 25 seconds to 50.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the dry leaves, because the tea was given to me already rinsed. The wet leaves were still rolled up, showing a bit of stems, as usual with taiwanese oolongs. The leaves were showing a dark green color. The aroma of the rinsed leaves was buttery / creamy and very much floral, like white flowers.
The tea liquor
The tea offered a translucent green brew all throughout.
The brewed tea
- The first steep was 25 seconds long. The first brew was really sweet, giving fruity notes of papaya / ripe mango. It gave off a huge fresh flowery note, which reminded me of lilacs and lys flower. The texture of the tea was very thick and long, and persisted in the mouth. After drinking, there was a lingering sweet, flowery and fruity aroma. The smelling cup offered tropical fruit notes and a deep coconut smell.
- The second steep was 20 seconds long. This one was fruityer, displaying the same tropical fruits and sweetness. But just when I didn’t expect it, a hint of sourness came through, reminding me of fresh fruits. It was very pleasant. The liquor was also a bit creamy, which reminded me lightly of almond milk. The texture on this brew was thick and juicy. It also offered a very long finish, filled with flower and fruity aromas. The smelling cup gave off a ‘’field of flowers’’ vibe and a fruity coconut smell.
- The third infusion was 30 seconds long. This steep was fruity (Mango / coconut) and flowery, but the sweetness started to shave off a little bit. Interesting enough, the sweetness shifted to a candy like sweetness to a creamy sweetness, reminding me of egg yolks and custard. The sourness in the background was taking up more space than the two first brews. A vegetal note started to gain traction, reminding me of straw. The smelling cup started to give off a more flowery / vegetal note. There was a definitive shift on this brew, but in a good way. It got really different real fast.
- The fourth infusion was 50 seconds long. I wanted to really push the tea to see what it can give after a longer steep. This brew was really a vegetal and fruity dominance. The floweriness came through in the finish and lingered in the mouth. The fruitiness shifted to a more ‘’ground cherry’’ fruitiness, offering almost a savory note, and a sourness associated to this fruit. At this steep, the tea started to die down gradually. The later brews were mostly casual, offering nothing really that complex in comparison of the first three infusions. But still very enjoyable nonetheless.
As many oolongs, this Li Shan is very relaxing, and offers a very calming Qi. It also gives a small amount of energy, but fades off after a short while. I felt less anxious and more introspective drinking this tea. This tea was very warming. It hit the spot quite well.
Overall, this tea is a very good and complex high mountain taiwanese oolong from Li Shan. Although, it may be on the more expensive side of things (35$/50g) it’s definitely worth its weight in gold. This may not be the best daily driver, but it’s a great occasional tea, to drink once a week or to share it with friends. It’s a very generous tea. It will surely last a long session. You need to take your time with this one. No rush needed.
Camellia Sinensis tea house is a technology free zone. It’s a rarity, at a time where technology is everywhere. The atmosphere is very relaxing, where you can connect with people, or directly with the tea. Tea or people are the focus. Not Facebook, and not a unfinished essay. In my opinion, it’s a great concept that should be implemented more. It’s a stress free ambiance. It’s the best time to connect with yourself. To me, it’s a stress free capsule in a stressful life.