Oolong is a tricky category for anyone who is trying to figure tea out on their own without expert help. Everything from floral varieties treated with osmanthus fragrance to nearly green to nearly black teas get labeled “oolong”. A person could try a half dozen “oolong” teas and conclude they simply do not care for the entire category without even beginning to scratch the surface of what is available in this huge spectrum.
My favorites, personally, are those such as TG’s “superior choice”, “superior taifu” and “Ming Xiang” which are roasted to produce woody, nutty, heady notes both in the dry leaf, and the cup. If I want a tea with green notes, I’ll drink green tea. If I want a cup with astringent, dry flavors, I’ll drink black tea. I drink oolong for those flavors you cannot get from any other leaf.
This particular tea, the “superior choice” grade, is simply brilliant. Deep, rich, woody, nutty, highly fragrant, but not brooding, muddy or acidic. Steep it twice, three times, even four if you’re truly frugal. But beware! Even though you can repeatedly steep this leaf, if you over steep at any point, you will get bitter, bitter, acidic, tannins and nastiness. Which isn’t a complaint, most all teas suffer from over steeping. This oolong just happens to be particularly unforgiving. So use a timer, and be prompt. With truly boiling water, 3 minutes is enough, adding 45 seconds or so with each subsequent steeping. If you’re stuck with 180 degree water from a bubbler or the hot tap on a coffee maker, you should def. steep longer and may need to experiment to find the right balance. But if you enjoy teas like this and cannot boil a proper kettle, consider picking up a small electric kettle and hiding it at your desk. Teas like this one really need water as hot as you can get it.