This is the first loose tea I’ve tried since I started my tea adventure, and I’m thoroughly amazed at how much of a difference I’m seeing between this and just about anything else I’ve been drinking these past weeks, even the whole leaf bagged teas. And I realize it’s pretty basic as oolongs go, so I can only imagine what’s in store when I graduate to higher grades.

This is the first in the Introduction to Oolong (Oolongs 101?) sampler and I’ve been enjoying it yesterday and today. I would not have thought it could add so much to the experience to examine dry leaves prior to steeping, but it does. These are a dark, chocolatey brown, with flecks of lighter brown. They have a warm, toasty aroma. The liquor is a rich, dark amber/burnt orange. It smells very similar to the dry leaves, and the flavor is in turn very true to the aroma, warm and toasty, with a very subtle note I can’t put my finger on — very slightly floral, perhaps? The aftertaste is slightly sweet and pleasant. I used two teaspoons rather than one after the first try and preferred it stronger. I did not notice much change over multiple steepings (I lengthened the steeping time from 3 minutes to 4 after the first, and to five on the last).

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.


Bay Area, California



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