211 Tasting Notes
The wavy, golden dry tea consists almost entirely of buds and has a toasty, earthy scent. Medium amber liquor has the haziness which comes from many, fine leaf-hairs suspended in the tea. It is self-drinking, biscuity, sweet caramel, with a crisp chocolate finish. There’s a nice spiciness in the finish and aftertaste. Second steep at 4 min was equally smooth and rich, and a bit sweeter than the first. Definitely high quality tea!
I don’t mind cleaning the slots in the glass infuser with a toothbrush IF I have enjoyed the rooibus-infused liquor which passed through them. After these cups, I minded. If you must know more about my encounter with this cursed abomination, read my earlier tasting note. A blend is not necessarily better than, or even equal to, its ingredients, this being a case in point.
P.S. It’s the green rooibus. It just tastes nasty to me. Tastes so different than regular, red, fermented rooibus! After that 2nd bad experience, I put the ToLife tea in a screen colander and sifted out the rooibus. What was left was better stuff, in my book.
Now that I’ve had a bit more experience with oolong teas, I realize that this one might be classified as a pouchong — that is, on the greenest end of the oolong spectrum. A short pre-rinse remedied the first-steep astringency experienced earlier. A closer look at the wet leaves revealed blossoms of a blue color interspersed therein. Since the dry tea is mostly pelleted, the flowers are not evident there. I enjoyed the several steeps, perhaps a little more than before; a better understanding seemed to improve the experience. Since the Steepster overlords refuse (so far) to give us numbers on the ratings slider, I’m not sure if the rating will be come out higher than before, as intended, or lower. They also ignored my question about how the “average” rating for a tea is computed. I have filed a complaint feedback on my ratings discontent. Anyone want to chime in, go comment on it!
P.S. Oh dear, I’m more forgetful than ever! Looking at my previous notes, I see that I did the rinse and discovered the blue flowers on the first go-round. What a gag it is, getting old! :)
This dry blend could be explored visually, even with a magnifying glass, for quite some time whilst trying to identify all its elements. Another of Teavana’s inspired, uncanny, or regrettable (depending, I suppose, on one’s experience with same) mixtures which goes where no tea has gone before. The worst bastardization in the orgy is the green rooibus intertwined with jasmine, which emerged onto my palate as some vegetable of questionable origin (a dumpster, perhaps?). The addition of a spot of honey to the second steep, aided by the blessed presence of white tea, managed to smooth things into a fruit and flower assemblage, albeit a plasticized one. I really wanted to like this tea, especially since I got it in a swap with a nice person. Because of that, and due to myself (and my taste buds) being dog-tired, I shall refrain from scoring this now. Tomorrow is, after all, another day.
The dry tea has a good, solid black tea aroma with subtle floral notes. The tea liquor shares these attributes in scent and taste. The Ceylon and Assam FBOP black tea base is simultaneously bright and deep, while the bit of green tea in the mix lends freshness. Adding milk and sweetener, as the Queen would enjoy her cup, the tea’s briskness mellows into a delicious blend of classic black tea flavors with the florality continuing to linger in the background. This is a wonderful tea for drinkers who enjoy bergamot and jasmine fragrance, but find it too present in the classic floral-scented teas. I recommend it.
I gave the small dry tea nuggets a quick hot water rinse, then sniffed at the pot — floral bliss! Dr Oolong, co-owner of Zhi Tea, describes aroma of wildflowers, but that fails to capture the richness of my olfactory experience. For me, the light gold oolong broth wafted forth orchid and lilac, with light honey notes. The sweet scent clung so strongly to the empty cup that I couldn’t take my nose out of it. That’s how I want to die — with my nose in a honeyed cup! (any innuendo found in that exclamation, ahem, surely originates in the mind of the reader) Yes, I’m an old bird whose sensuality often, these days, finds itself swimming in a cup of tea. My family, I think, considers my tea obsession a blessing, a diversion which keeps me too busy to venture far onto the wild side. My old bones second that emotion. “Teadrunk nights are quite enough,” they agree. So my hat’s off to those tiny bugs which chewed these leaves and made this tea so special! I got four good infusions, too.
Dry tea is a fine, light tumble of thin curls with white tips – a promising sight. Use more than a teaspoon per cup. A pleasant green sweetness rises from the liquor as an aroma, and the taste follows suit. Not bitter or astringent. A buttery, salty sea-scent and flavor runs along underneath. Second steep just as good. I like it.
Dry tea is tightly rolled, small nuggets, dark olive green and khaki, and smells very fresh. At 190F, 3 gm in 3.5 oz pot. I poured water in, and then over the pot (which was seated in a small shallow bowl) to increase and maintain temperature, as in Chinese gongfu chadao. Steeps of 2 min, 30 sec, 1 min, 1, 1.5, 2 min.
On to the drinking! The maker of this oolong tea has coaxed a lovely sweetness from the leaf. It is accompanied by orchid notes and low astringency, a combination which spells happiness for me. There is a base of lightly roasty deep-greeness, characteristic of a rolled oolong. Successive steeps mellow the experience, as notes of caramel emerge. A most enjoyable series of cups!