322 Tasting Notes
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.
This is my everyday, all day tea on week days when I am working. You basically cannot over steep this tea, and the resulting brew even from a single tablespoon of leaf is so strong that you can stretch it with hot water for several hours. I set up a pot each morning and enjoy it all day long. For me, this tea is as ubiquitous as most people’s daily coffee, but lacks the harsh bitterness, acerbic notes and cloying aroma that can fill even a large space with an overwhelming odor. Pu-erh is a tea no one will know you are drinking except your dentist (stains the teeth pretty badly, unfortunately).
This particular pu-erh is very, very smooth without being flat or boring. As I said, I’ve had this nearly every day, all day, for years now, and continue to enjoy drinking it each and every day. You’d pay about as much for a good coffee, but I’m using a single table spoon a day to drink this tea all day. If you took coffee as seriously, you’d be going through a pound a day. Which means at $16 and change for 125 grams, this is an unbelievably cheap tea, per cup considering how good it tastes.
Someday soon, pu-erh will become the new “it” tea for diet fads, health benefits and all the rest. Until that happens, enjoy these cheap, flavorful, mellow, rich teas while you can for pennies a day.