During our tea meeting this past weekend, Wyardley and our host, NM, both had 2011 San Lin Xi oolongs to share. WY purchased his from Floating Leaves Tea, where it has since sold out, and NM purchased his from a store in Taizhong (I think?).
We decided to taste them side by side to compare them.
They are pictured below. Floating Leaves is in front of the pink bag on the left, and NM's tea is in front of the other, white bag.
Perspective makes the Floating Leaves Tea look a little larger leafed than it is, though it was larger than NM's. NM's was also a brighter green whereas WY's had a bluish tinge. WY thought his was slighly higher oxidation.
San Lin Xi is a big mountain with many tea fields, but these teas could have been from neighboring farms. They smelled different in their bags (WY's was vegetal, NM's was nutty), but once in the pot they smelled almost identical. Their taste was almost identical too. NM's was thicker in taste and longer in aftertaste, whereas WY's was maybe slightly more floral and less veggie than NM's. But these differences were very, very slight.
The brewed leaves were nearly identical, too. WY's didn't show any additional oxidation that we could determine, either with our tongues or our eyes.
They were both pretty decent, and I preferred NM's but I couldn't say why, other than perhaps I thought the thickness would lend itself well to aging the tea. I don't care much for greener Taiwan oolongs, so the idea of changing them with age is always on my mind when tasting them.
Their sameness, though a bit boring in physical reality, was interesting to think about, that Taiwanese have their tea crafting down to an art that yields very consistent results. Judging gaoshan tea competitions must be rather difficult!