Well, it turns out that I really needed to follow the instructions on the packaging. I’ve been playing around with this tea at my office with minimal results on the “tasty meter”. It turns out that this oolong truly needs the boiling water to make it sing. Previous efforts yielded decent yet average results in the 70-75 range. Kind of bland…not what I expect from Samovar. The tea tasted more like charcoal than “roasted”. The phrase, “Taste the meat, not the heat” comes to mind. No matter how long I steeped, I ended up with blasé charcoal water.
Boiling water made all the difference.
Everything about the tea improved. The smell, the taste, the color of the liquor…all drastically heightened. The liquor is darker, the taste more complex. Now Samovar’s description is making sense. Earthy (I’m guessing this is where the peat notes come in), nutty (especially in the aroma), light barley…but more charcoal-y in my opinion. Much more robust! Now we’re talking! Sometimes it pays to follow the instructions.
But not always. :)