So, Oriental Beauty, the oolong everyone raves about from the tea company everyone raves about. It’s a pretty tea when dry with colors ranging from pale yellow, golden, red-brown to almost black. I can find scents of honey, peach and bread. I’m following Teavivre’s recommendation of 30sec, 1min and 2min steeps at 85C.
1st steep: I’m going to start getting a reputation for painting strange flavor “pictures” here if things keep going the way they have, and this tea isn’t going to help! The wet leaf first smelled like the wonderful crust of freshly baked bread, and then—wait for it—Southern-style green beans. The type that’s been cooked to an inch of its life, with bacon (and plenty of bacon fat) and sugar added. Reminds me of my favourite BBQ restaurants back home. For a homesick South Carolinian, it’s hard to get past that, but if I really push through it I think I can find some peach following it up. And that was just the wet leaf! This first cup was quite light in color, like fresh peach juice, and very smooth. The flavors are buttery with bread, honey and peach, but not exactly sweet.
2nd steep: This steep is darker, like copper. A gentle bitterness this time. The flavors are mostly related to what I found in the 1st steep, but they’re in a different order and there are some additions. First is buttery, baked fruit (mainly peach), then cinnamon, wood, and freshly baked bread. There’s a slight note of liquorice that comes towards the end, but it’s not strong or unpleasant (as I don’t like liquorice). But the overall impression I get from this steep is remembering when I would spread a piece of pane di casa with some ricotta, put sliced peach on top with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, then grill it. That’s not all that sweet, and neither is this tea, which is surprising considering the flavors involved.
3rd steep: The bitterness more noticeable this time, but it’s not offensive. The flavors are now pretty well restrained to butter, honey, peach and bread, and they’re all a good bit weaker. There’s not really that much to say about this steep. The bitterness did make this last steep not as easy-drinking as the last steep of most other teas I’ve had. I’m not saying it was bad, just that I simply noticed the bitter taste each sip. I couldn’t mindlessly drink it while reading, say.