The small, multicolored dry leaves are curly, but not rolled-up, and smell mossy and fresh. Leaf hairs in the golden brew testify to the youngness of the leaves. In it’s flavor, the base note is balsamic, overlaid by the green mossy-ness and notes of artichoke and red clover blossom. It is like a pouchong, lightly oxidized, but the floral tastes and aromas are more earthy, like the clover blossom, and less like the very sweet flowers we normally call to mind. Because I dabble in herbs, my concept of floral scent has been enlarged to include what I would call (in an aromatherapy context) a mid-note florality. If I sense a top note in this oolong, it is fleeting. This is a subtle tea, which takes some consideration to fully appreciate. I am curious about how this tea would turn out if steeped at lower temperatures, perhaps 190F. I’ll post about it here, if it gives a substantially different result.
And then there is the freshness, even in this oolong. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.
As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to teahawaii.com and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.