So apparently New Zealand can make some tea. Who knew? But yeah, this is some seriously tasty stuff.
Normally I’m not one for using boiling water on greener oolongs. However, the directions printed inside the tea’s packaging say use boiling water and, given that Zealong’s packaging is pretty serious (a vacuum-sealed bag of tea inside a matte black square tin which sits snugly in the foam bottom of a large, magnetic-close box), I’m going to take their directions seriously, too. Zealong also says you can take this up to 8 steeps. I’m not sure I can make it that long, even if the tea can, but we’ll see.
The dry leaves have a very faint smell to them. Very faint. Even the liquid is fairly lightly scented, but it is a delicious smell anyway.
Steep 1 (1min): Sipping is kind of wow. It’s rich – dark, heavy, sweet, floral at first. Slurping a bit makes the flavor lighten up more and becomes like a fresh lemongrass flavor. As it cools, that almost-lemon-candy note comes up more and more. There’s a little dryness left behind after each sip, along with a lovely sweet, floral/fruity taste.
Steep 2 (1min): The main reason I don’t use boiling water on oolongs is that it seems that the leaves can get easily cooked and that smell and taste is kind of gross to me. After pouring the tea, these leaves now have a bit of that cooked scent about them, but instead of smelling like over-boiled collard greens, it’s like toasted bread… with some lemon preserves smeared on top. The tea, though, doesn’t have any overcooked-ness to it but there is a darker note to it that wasn’t present in the first steep. Also, the fresh lemongrass note has turned into a more lemon preserves note. The astringency is still there and adds a bit of texture at the end of the sip.
Steep 3 (1min): The flavor is darker now. The lemon note is gone and replaced with an almost honey note. Slurping brings out a woody flavor. There might be a hint of something almost spicy, or I might be insane.
Steep 4 (2min): Heavier again with the nuances and light notes of the first steep kind of muddied up a bit but still not overcooked. And is the lemon back some? And maybe something that reminds me of cream… (Though that could have been the sip of half & half I took while making the hubby some EG, but it continues to stick around so maybe it’s the tea.)
Steep 5 (3min): The leaves are smelling pretty done now but the done-ness hasn’t come into the tea. It’s darker, heavier, thicker and a little more one-note tasting than previous steeps but there’s still a faint hint of lemon/lemon preserves.
Steep 6 (4min): Might be tasting a little overcooked now? Still has a lot of the same tastes as steep 5, though.
Okay, I’m done. Seriously, I’ve had a lot of oolong – it might be coming out of my pores at this point. Could the tea take a couple of more steeps? Maybe. Can I? Nope. But I will say that this is seriously good stuff though. Congrats, New Zealand, for making good tea!
PS – Just watched the documentary All in This Tea. Definitely recommend it to any tea lover out there!