Mark T. Wendell
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Recent Tasting Notes
I love oolong, and I love finery, especially in the tea world. So when the chance to try this tea came up…an oolong, mind you, that is supposed to be one of the finest available, and available only in limited quantities, I jumped at the opportunity.
The dry leaf holds light, vegetal notes that are, surprisingly, reminiscent of a few white teas that I have tried.
The steeped liquor is a brilliant gold, with excellent clarity (the benefits of utilizing a glass vessel for steeping). It also has a darker aroma, more akin to darjeeling. Ah, but the first sip was nothing like drinking darjeeling. Light and fruity (what specific fruit flavours – I cannot quite place), the liquor slipped over the tongue easily. Incredibly soft mouthfeel combined with a surprisingly bold, yet not overwhelming, aftertaste to provide a wonderfully pleasant drink.
Steeping the tea again, for a few minutes longer (five this time), led to a brew of much the same strength and character as the first. I was pleased at the resilience and quality of this tea. I most definitely enjoyed drinking this and would certainly keep this on my list of teas to keep in stock. I give it a 90/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
Argh! I had a nice tasting notes written for this tea when Bob the computer decided to die on me. * swears * So I’ll try and reproduce what I remember from it. >:(
This tea was another of the samples that Mike from “It’s All About the Leaf” (http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/) gave me to review. I have to say that I feel a little spoiled with the size of the samples he’s giving me, there’s a good 30-40 g of tea in this pouch, for instance.
Dry it has a sweet, vegetal scent, and the leaves are rolled like most green oolongs – although fairly loosely in this case – and the leaves look to be a bit paler than what I normally see. The steeped tea reveals how “Imperial Gold” likely got its name – it’s a deep, warmly-golden liquid. It also has a rather delicate floral aroma that teases the nose rather than punches it.
This is quite a ‘green’ green oolong, with a vegetal flavour profile and, oddly enough, little of the sweetness that I’m used to tasting as an oolong cools off. The first steep, at 4 minutes, is a little weak – not too surprising as the leaves take time to unroll and open up. I’ve been told that the 2nd steep of a green oolong is usually the best, and what I’ve experienced so far with this type of tea seems to bear that out, more or less.
The 2nd steep, at 5 minutes, has a fuller flavour and a more substancial body. It has a flavour like cooked greens with a faintly spicy or peppery note that lingers on the tongue. By the third steep, at 6 minutes, I can tell that the tea is starting to lose its omph, as it has a thinner liquor and a sweet, green taste that’s more fresh than cooked – although there are some buttery notes on the end.
Not my favourite – I like my oolongs sweeter, though I think you can put that down to a matter of personal preference rather than lack of quality in this case.
The shape of these rolled oolong leaves was reminiscent of an Alishan oolong I once had – small, compacted clumps of leaf. They carry quite a vegetal smell, almost more like a green tea than an oolong. I started out by steeping two teaspoons of leaves in two cups of water for three minutes.This resulted in somewhat of a weak brew, so I put the leaves back in for another minute or so (I like my oolongs stronger).
This completed brew is delightful. Light and creamy oolong scent with just a hint of that original vegetal strength with a bit of peppery smell too. The liquor is a very bright and clear light brown, and the taste….ooooh my. Light and soft, it caresses the tongue while still putting out moderately bold flavours including floral, vegetal, and peppery notes all wrapped into one tasty package. If this oolong went to school, it would be said that it was a very well-rounded individual, as this is a very well-rounded tea, encompassing a variety of different flavours that all serve to complement each other.
The second steep brought out the floral notes in the tea to a much fuller extent. The taste overall mellowed out a lot and brought out a bit more of the vegetal side as well. I could easily see this tea going for at least one or two more steepings. I really enjoyed this tea, and am giving it an 80/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
To begin this review, I have to say that I’m a bit of a sucker for pu-erh sold in bird’s nest form, just because I think it looks really cool. However, I will attempt to not let this affect the bias of my review. Soooo, without further ado…
The dry tuocha smelled dark, dark and rich. Its very earthy scent had a touch of spicy notes to it as well. Wet, it had spicy and tobacco tones about it.
I chose to infuse this using multiple short infusions of about 30 seconds each.
First infusion: The liquor was still very bright and clear, a light brown in colour. It smelled faintly of the dry tuocha. The taste is very light, and I wonder if 30 seconds is not long enough. It certainly does taste earthy though. It is not as spicy as the smell led me to believe.
Second infusion: This time, the brown liquor deepened and darkened in colour, while maintaining its brightness. The scent is now very earthy, with almost a bit of fishy smell to it. Mmm, the taste has deepened. Full-bodied, the liquor tastes earthy and mellow. It goes down smooth, as though it barely brushes the tongue and throat.
Third infusion: The colour of the tea is now a deep brown, nearing dark chocolate in colour. The aroma has not changed much, but the flavour is much stronger and feels more mature. Very delicious at this point. I am quite enjoying this tea and I wonder how long this tuocha will last.
Fourth infusion: This cup was just as enjoyable as the third and had the same strength and characteristics. It seems as though this tea could certainly continue with more infusions. When I have more time, perhaps I will give one of these tuocha a test of how long it can last.
I loved being able to try this tea as it continued to grow and mature in taste and aroma. I truly cannot wait to drink it again. I rate it an 85/100 on my personal enjoyment scale!
This is another TEAEQUALSBLISS tea! Thank you! Since it says it is a blend of high middle altitude estate teas, I thought it would have the wintergreen tingle of Uva Highlands, and it does! Since I like low astringency I think this one for me is best with milk and sugar, but for those who like a brisk cup, you will want it just as it is. We steeped for 4 minutes to keep it from being bitter after reading some other reviews, and that was good for us. You could probably leave it a tad longer, but not much!
I am determined to get something out of this tea besides barely-there-wood flavored water. This tea is supposed to be “Extra Fancy”… am I missing something? Will I have another fataliTEA on my hands or will I be able to salvage what is left of my sample bag?
Okay, it is official. I know this is an unflavored oolong, but would it be too much to ask for just a bit of some sort of flavor? Some body? Something? I gave up and mixed about half a packet of white hot cocoa in the tea which makes the cocoa just a tiny bit more interesting due to the tiny wood-like taste of the tea. I will either use the remaining tea in cocoa or may just throw it out. I don’t know, but I’m docking some major points.
I think I’ve been avoiding this one because I really WANT to like it, but it is just okay. I’m going to give it another shot today. It definitely is drinkable, but I want it to blow me away. I have a feeling there is something special about this, but I haven’t been getting it. I went heavier on the leaf, made sure the water was boiling and steeped for 4 minutes rather than the usual 3.
The verdict? Hmm…better than I remember. The mouthfeel is thicker and I don’t feel like I’m just drinking hot water. I’m catching a grape-like scent in the aroma, similar to that of the Darjeeling I’ve been drinking. The taste is much the same as previous attempts, but much fuller. I’ll have to see what happens as this cools, but I may raise the rating if it truly stays in the better than last time category.
I made two infusions of this tea earlier and I enjoyed it more this time around. I still didn’t find any of the sweet notes or have the brew change significantly from one infusion to the next, but since I wasn’t expecting those things I was able to appreciate the tea for what it is. A lightly toasty wood-like tea.
Alright, I’m finishing up the 4th infusion of this tea from last evening. The color is still fairly dark, although in the brown/honey stage now. I’m not getting a lot of bold flavor from the tea though. It could just be that I’m not quite awake yet. I mean, it doesn’t take like plain water but I’m not sure there is enough of a taste to justify making a 4th infusion again. Unfortunately, I never got a lot of variation between infusions. I will try this again on another day to see if I can pull more out of it. As for now, I feel like it is a good plain oolong, but I’m not so sure about the Extra Fancy part.