One of the teas of the month for March from the Teavana Classic tea of the month club. I am not going to tell you how many tea of the month clubs I have joined in the last couple of weeks. I can’t even think about it too long without a minor freak out. I am fairly sure you’re only supposed to join ONE tea of the month club. But they all look so incredibly interesting. Sigh. I keep telling myself that at least tea is good for you and pretty harmless as addictions go…
This is not a tea I would have chosen had it not been part of the tea of the month club. I’ve been a little wary of flavored oolongs for no really good reason, other than I’ve really enjoyed the tastes of the unflavored ones and I’ve not become a fan of flavored greens. Oolongs seem to have a lot of personality on their own, even moreso than greens, and like greens seem to me to have fairly nuanced flavors that can be overshadowed or even poisoned by attempts to introduce other flavors into the mix.
If I’m remembering correctly, this is my first flavored oolong. I put about twice as much of this in the infuser as I would ordinarily as I was afraid the tea part of it would be too weak otherwise; it has that Teavana cornucopia of fruit thing going on and I thought the chunks of papaya and pineapple might result in too little actual tea going into the cup. It’s very pretty, with full tiny rosebuds strewn throughout. The tea is dark and brownish and resembles the Formosa fine grade I have from Upton though with slightly larger leaves. The dry tea smells fruity, floral and slightly pungent.
It brews to a light yellow, and smells of sweet, tropical fruit and cinnamon with an undercurrent of toasty rose. It actually smells much nicer than I expected it would. The fruit isn’t overpoweringly sweet and it has a clean, fresh smell.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the taste. I’ve not had great luck with pineapple flavoring in green teas, but it works fairly well against the backdrop of the oolong. The pineapple itself isn’t bitter, which helps quite a bit. The papaya and orange smooth it out some as well. The cinnamon, fortunately, plays a minor role in the flavor portfolio as it could easily stamp out the other flavors if it had been any stronger. As a tropical/pineapple blend, this is more successful than others I’ve had with green bases, and it gets points for that. I’m not discerning the oolong flavor in the mix on the first steep, but I expect this is something it will take a few tries to identify. (I’m finding that it often takes a few tries of a tea for me to really get it. It’s sort of like muscle memory in the palate, it takes a baseline taste or two before I can really start tasting the nuances.)
I was curious how well this would stand up to multiple steepings. With oolongs I’ve been going at least four, sometimes five or six. I wondered whether the fruit would become soggy, tasteless, or bitter, or just give up the ghost altogether. The first two steeps were pretty much the same. The third was interesting. By this time the fruit flavor was receding and mellowing, but not disappearing. The taste became more buttery and the tea silkier in the mouth. By the fourth, the tea was discernible if I tried really hard to taste it.
I suspect this will be different from cup to cup as a lot of these chunky mixes are, depending upon the amount of each type of fruit and tea that ends up in a particular steep. Though it’s not something I would have sought out and probably won’t seek out again, I can tell I’m going to enjoy drinking it while I have it. And it may even grow on me.