I think officially spring is here, it is warm, bright, and sunny…and I have started getting Pollen Alerts in my email. Though if I have learned anything in my time living in Kansas City, it is that the weather and seasons are very unpredictable, it might feel like spring now but in a week we could be buried under snow again.
Today’s tea arrived in the mail when I was recovering from the flu, meaning I had to wait till I could fully taste and smell things properly, and it is finally that time! Tiger Monk Roasted Oolong by Temple Road Tea is a roasted oolong from Taiwan and is of the Shan Lin Xi variety and is the first tea in their Martial Monk series. The aroma is really quite intense, blending caramelized sugar and roasted nuts with lesser notes of raisins. The tightly rolled leaves have a finishing aroma of coal and fresh wood. I was pleasantly surprised at how sweet the aroma is, it blends really well with the smoky coal finish.
Once steeped and unfurled a bit, the leaves take on the complex blend of cherries and coal, milk and cocoa. It is very rich and has pleasant layers of aromas that fills me with the desire to keep sniffing, I want to see what other aromas come wafting off the wet leaves. The liquid is creamy and rich with strong notes of coal and a hint of sweet cocoa.
The first steeping is very smooth, the first thing I notice is the initial buttery mouthfeel, the creamy taste that accompanies the tea is wonderful. The tea is sweet with flavors of dried cherries and raisins with a strong wood smoke and coal finish. If the first steep is anything to go by I can say I am going to love this tea, it mixes some of my favorite qualities of Jin Xuan and Roasted Da Hong Pao.
The aroma of the leaves from the second steeping still has the sweet fruity aroma from earlier, but the cocoa and coal notes are stronger, now there is also a hint of roasted nuts. The aroma of the liquid is caramel sweet and cocoa rich with a pleasant kick of roasted nuts. The mouthfeel of this steeping is not as buttery, in fact it has a bit of a bitter dryness to it, similar to a mouthful of roasted hazelnuts (yes I do know exactly what that tastes like). The coal and wood smoke taste is much stronger with this steeping as well, it is a potent steep rivaling Lapsang Souchong for smokiness, except it is like cherry wood smoke rather than pine wood since it has a distinct sweet floral quality. Speaking of sweetness the finish is powerfully sweet, it goes from coal to smoke in an instant and the flip-flop of taste is an awesome transition.
The third steeping’s aroma is almost identical to the second, but this time the liquid had a slight hint of malt. The mouthfeel is dry and the flavor is mostly sweet this time, I think almost all the smoke was left behind in the previous steep. This time I get honey, cherries, and roasted nuts as the main flavor notes. There is a hint of cocoa at the end, throughout the entire sipping experience is the ghost of smoke, like a strong breeze blew away all the smoke from a forest fire, but the memory is still left in the nose and mouth. This tea kinda blew me away, I almost feel like the tea was misnamed, it should have been Phoenix Monk since I felt much like the Phoenix going through a smoky journey with this tea. I think I found a new favorite.
Flavors: Cocoa, Honey, Stonefruits