Omni Tea International

Recent Tasting Notes

68

So I am using up the last of this pu-erh, and I am radically re-adjusting the rating.

I think when I first got it, in my mind, I made it as tasty as the varieties I’d gotten from Upton in the past, but the reality is, that it isn’t as good as those. Some of the notes I found in the two pu-erh I got from C.S. reminded me how much was really missing from this Omni/Rishi pu-erh.

I definitely won’t be buying this again because I can get the Upton Celestial Tribute for roughly the same price and I like that one much better.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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68

The more I drink this, the less and less impressed with it I am. I need to go back to Upton for my default pu-erh.

Cofftea

Is this sheng or shu?

Jim Marks

Near as I know, it is shou.

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68

I was missing the old stand-by, so I made a pot today. I’m nearly out of it, and I will probably let it stay barren until the autumn. Summers here are so brutal I don’t foresee wanting pu-erh (or lapsang suchoung for that matter). I’ll probably spend the summer drinking iced barley water. It is only mid-April and I’m already mowing the lawn every 3 or 4 days.

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68

I realized the other day I’m not drinking my steady-as-a-rock Upton pu-erh, but I’m drinking a pu-erh from Omni tea, as they found me on Twitter and, featuring a lot of organic and fair trade teas, I decided to place an order (they need to speed up shipping, but other than that, a great deal). At the time I was nearly out of pu-erh, so I ordered this one from them.

I just love pu-erh, that’s all there is to it. See my extensive note on the Upton Celestial Classic for details. This particular pu-erh isn’t quite as deep and rich as that one, but is still a great everyday cup, especially if you are a recovering coffee person (which I’m not, but if you were) because brewing long and strong, it has that same nearly opaque, black quality. But unlike coffee, the resulting cup is smooth and soft, not bitter and acrid.

You might be surprised if I said I also love peony whites and gyokuro greens, but in a funny way, those are, to me, more complex and require more attention than this earthy cup of pu-erh.

Pu-erh makes me feel rooted to the planet, and I’m sticking to that story.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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86

I noticed this morning that the leaves here, even in a very large open vessel, don’t all completely open in four minutes. But I know from past experience that more than 4 minutes gets bitter and impacts later steepings. This oolong may be a better candidate for rinsing than my pu-erh.

This oolong is a lot toastier than the TeaG one I have right now, which is a lot tippy-er. These leaves are all chocolate brown, whereas the Formosa Superior Choice has the whole spectrum of white, green, and shades of brown.

This tea makes me realize that, come next autumn, I will have taken a sufficiently long break from lapsangs, that I am going to want to put some real smoke back into my rotation. I may even go back to my old habit of creating my own tea blends. I used to do a 60/40 of pu-erh and lapsang, but I may try a 50/25/25 with pu-erh, this oolong and lapsang. If anyone cares, my lapsang of choice is Upton Tea’s “Black Dragon” which is a strong, imposing tea without being overwhelmingly “meaty” (doesn’t make people think of bacon while brewing).

By the way, I learned through a friend that Omni Tea is just re-selling Rishi Tea, so in the future I will probably buy direct from Rishi and hope that solves the shipping speed problem.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Auggy

Do you mind if I’m nosy for a moment and ask why the long lapsang break?

Jim Marks

I just kind of over-did it, I think. For a long time (like, years) all I was drinking was my 60/40 pu-erh and lapsang blend and I just wanted a break from the smoke. I also found out that they don’t use hardwood to smoke the tea, they use softwoods, and softwood smokes are particularly bad for you, so I thought maybe it would be a good idea to not drink quite so much of it.

Auggy

Gotcha – that makes sense. Now I have to ask, why softwood smokes are bad for you? Because I will be the first to admit that I love my smoky teas and I really don’t want them to be evil!

Jim Marks

Well, the chemistry of wood smoke is a very complex topic and I’m not expert to speak on it completely. But the short version is that there’s a very good reason why all cured meats, smoked cheeses, barbecue, bacon, grilling charcoal and fireplace wood is hardwood and not softwood.

Also, I have no idea if any of these bad things from the smoke actually get into the tea, and even if they do, if they get from the leaf to the cup.

SO, I don’t want to become the start of an urban legend that lapsang will give your cancer or something. I just connected some dots in my head, got freaked out, and took a break. I’ve enjoyed so many other teas since then it made me realize that I could have lapsang once in a while which I tend to think is OK for anything, no matter how bad for you it is, and that this wouldn’t leave me without tea to drink.

Side note: all soot is carcinogenic. Grilling meat over open flames producing smoke and soot is very bad for you. this is why grilling should be done over coals, not flames and thus why we use charcoal instead of fresh wood to make a hot grill. And pressing on burgers to squeeze out the fat, which then causes flame flare ups may reduce your fat intake, but produces a great deal of soot which is worse for you in the long run.

Auggy

Thanks for the information – and for the desire to not induce lapsang-panic! I might have to poke into this a bit more just for curiosity’s sake.

Jim Marks

Lemme know what you find out.

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86

Calling a tea “wuyi oolong” is a bit redundant. But in this category of tea which has such a wide spectrum, confirming that this tea is a center of the bell curve kind of oolong (much like TeaGschwendner’s Formosa Superior Choice that I reviewed the other day) is not necessarily a bad idea.

This tea lacks, perhaps, some of the three dimensional sparkle of the TG FSC, but do you always want “wet stone and dried apricot”? I don’t either. Sometimes you just want that rich, nutty, comforting cup, and these leaves will deliver every time.

This tea is certified organic, which is a good thing.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
SoccerMom

Yea! Another fellow Houstonian that’s TWO in one week and one that likes Oolongs!…and the answer is NO I don’t always want “wet stone and dried apricot”. LOL In fact I cannot say that I’ve ever craved “wet stone”. I LOVE the Formosa Silk Oolong at Te’ House of Tea (it’s located here in H-Town) and I’m sorta stuck on that right now ( as far as oolongs go). Enjoyed the review and please go review some tea places in Houston! :P

Jim Marks

We’re big fans of Te House of Tea as well as The Path of Tea.

SoccerMom

Us to. And the good thing is there both so different.

Jim Marks

We used to live in Chicago and went to the TG retail shop a lot, including for private tasting events. So, we’re pretty spoiled.

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