For my Friday fun, I briefly considered a themed set of three tasting notes. Not similar teas, just three teas organized thematically. It seems like a fun idea, and I may yet do it so I won’t reveal the theme, not that I would expect a tremendous number of people would either remember it or were familiar with it in the first place as it is rather a niche item. Can you tell that I have limited creative outlets these days?
But I don’t think I have time to do the themed notes and also taste this tea, which I have been waiting to taste for three weeks now. I knew from what others had said about it that it would be pretty special, so I wanted to taste it at a time when I was alone in quiet, which is rarely the case in this house. Today I’m working from home and I’ve just finished most of what was on my plate for today so I’m taking a small break before the last push, and I am taking advantage of the quietness and aloneness to do it.
I am finding that oolongs are probably my favorite kind of tea. I say probably because I really love blacks, too, so it’s a toss up but for this. Oolongs have a rare gift that I truly appreciate and that they may only have in common with pu erhs, in my experience. They can really transport me to another physical, mental and emotional dimension. They’re supremely relaxing to me, and yet they also provide that state of quiet alertness I’ve read so much about. The seem well matched to meditation. I may test that out at some point: drink oolong and then meditate.
This oolong is an oolong’s oolong. It has a whole lot of special going on.
When I opened the sample packet, I noticed immediately that the leaves smelled like flowery butter. Though they are less floral-smelling that those of the Life in Teacup An Xi Tie Guan Yin Grade II modern green style, the floral note they do have is similar. There’s gardenia, and more. Where the LIT had a pure, delicate floral note, these have a stronger one that is, perhaps, boosted by the creaminess of the buttery fragrance.
The leaves range in shades of green from fairly dark, almost forest, to much lighter, and are tightly curled, almost to the point of pearliness. They are fairly small, but substantial-looking.
First steep: 2 min. A light yellow, very slightly green liquor. Intensely floral, intensely dewy, creamy, rich aroma. Silky smooth in the mouth and tastes of flowers and creamy butter, with a fresh green note. It’s like a more intensely flavored, fuller-bodied version of the LIT. A more grown up version of the LIT.
Second steep: 3 min. A darker yellow green. I’m looking for the fresh baked bread, and unbelievably, it is there. The melt-on-your-tongue, white, fluffy innards of a fresh Italian or French bread loaf while it’s still hot, drizzled with sweet butter and consumed outdoors under an arbor on the grounds of a Tuscan villa or in a garden in the suburbs of Paris.
Third steep: 3:30 min. The agony of the leaves leads to having to transfer them into a bigger filter. They’re completely unwound and voluminous. This steep is all about the dairy. It may be milk, it may be butter, it may be cream, it may be all three at the same time or in pairs, but it is all dairy all the time. The LIT is like a baby’s breath and lovely. This is like burying your nose in those soft baby neck skin folds (clean ones!), and lovely as well.
Fourth steep: 4 min. The greenness of the oolong emerges this round. It isn’t what I’d call vegetal, more the greenness of the floral aspect. The taste of the fragrance of fresh flower stems, green but inescapably floral. The dairy has receded, though it is still present. Though I can’t test it, I feel as though my breath probably smells very fresh right now. :-)
Fifth steep: 4:30 min. It’s like the tea is waving goodbye and receding slowly into the distance. The silkiness is tapering off, as is the butteryness. What is left is flowers, like the memory of perfume on a pillow. It’s a graceful taper, but I feel the tea is telling me it’s over until next time.
This was an incredibly wonderful way to refresh on a Friday after a long week. This is something that I must have in my life, at least until I find something that tops it. Along with the LIT, I now have two favorite oolongs. I feel moved to bump up the LIT a bit since I enjoyed it, in its own way, and since there is now, no matter how much it may be clogged with other things, a place reserved for both of these in my cupboard.