Let this be a lesson… how you brew a tea matters!
I’ve tried experimenting and brewing this tea multiple ways, how I would expect to brew an oolong. Boiling water for 2-4 minutes. Gongfu style, boiling water, starting at 10 seconds and increasing by a little each infusion, etc. etc. I even tried brewing it like a gyokuro; 140F for 2minutes; this probably yielded the best results. (Also, each time I tried to use a 1g/1oz water ratio.) I kept feeling like I wasn’t getting the whole picture. Most of the time, it tasted overcooked or weak.
So I finally contacted them to ask how best to brew it (since the information was not on the website). The answer I got back was simple… boiling water for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Ok… I hadn’t tried that yet, why not?!
So yesterday evening, I used 3g of leaf (of the last 6g, out of the total 1oz), put it in the pre-warmed kyusu and followed the suggestion, not really expecting a significantly different result. I also let the tea cool off a bit once I had decanted; I thought that I’d probably been drinking it too quickly, so it was hot enough to (likely) limit the aroma/flavors I could detect. And the result?
I was blown away by the result. Each sip was incredible and I felt so excited to have my expectations so turned on their head. I’ve haven’t had a moment with a tea like this in a while!
It started, as I said on the previous note, similar to sencha; slightly bitter and sweet at the beginning. In the middle it became rounder and creamier, and had a heaviness similar to gyokuro. I’m not exactly sure why it reminded me of gyokuro— probably the presence of umami. Finally, it finished very sweet and fruity, like cooked fruit or apricots or peaches. It was a flavor that very much reminded me of the fruit you might get from phoenix oolong (the limited experience I’ve had with these).
The combination of the bitter/sweet qualities of sencha and the creaminess of a milk oolong and the fruit of a phoenix oolong was amazing. This tea went from being interesting and glad to have at least learned something to being… uh oh, I am really going to have to buy more at some point. I just wish it was easier to obtain!
The only reason this isn’t getting a higher rating is because it is quite picky, and the incredible first infusion really is the best one. The subsequent ones were still quite good, but I could tell it is still a delicate tea, and could easily become overcooked or weak. However, a jump from 68 to 94 is something I never expected to experience, and it was quite fun!