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drank Mauka Oolong by Tea Hawaii
158 tasting notes

The very last thing that I should be doing right now is drinking tea. I have had a tremendously difficult time sleeping the last few nights, and this is not going to help. It wouldn’t be so bad for me if I were capable of writing creatively when my schedule gets bent out of joint, but it seems to knock the rest of me from kilter as well…but it’s late, I’m sore and headache-ridden, malcontent about another late night. I need to snuggle some tea, and this has been lying around and tempting me.

What a very strange oolong.

First, the leaves.

They don’t look like any oolong leaves I have ever seen before. I will grant you that I am not the most experienced tea-drinker in the world and that there are probably many varieties of oolong that I have yet to try, but these leaves look — I am being entirely literal in my description — like something I might have raked up in the yard in autumn. Not dirty or grungy, mind you — like clean, glossy, well-dried autumn leaves – - but nevertheless very much like that, in many shades of brown, a bit broken, not particularly curled or rolled. They smell wonderful and distinctly oolong-y, more on the green end of the spectrum than otherwise.

The package recommends brewing at 208 for 3 minutes. I don’t usually brew my oolongs with water this hot, but I imagine that Eva knows best, so I followed the instructions. The resulting cup of tea is not, in fact, a light yellow-green as described above, but an amber that could easily have resulted from a very timid Ceylon. As it was initially brewing it smelled very much like a green, floral oolong; those scents have deepened quite a bit to something more earthy, as though the tea is actually really somewhere between a dark oolong and a green one.

The other tasting note’s reference to balsam seems appropos. I’m not sure if it’s balsam or cedar, or the pine in the description, but there’s definitely a forest-y element here. The end of the sip is sweet on the edges of my tongue, and astringent in the center, but the astringency isn’t lingering. It seems almost tart, but I’m not sure that it is. The mouthfeel is full-bodied.

My description is completely inadequate. The tea does not push an overwhelming amount of flavor onto you — I was afraid it was a bit underwhelming — but what flavors are there to be sensed are many and varied, and trying to pin down the elements individually is proving very difficult for me. A complex, unusual oolong for me. Citrus! No, floral! No, pine! No, it smells like butter!

Weird.

I would like to try it at 175 in order to see if that changes things, but I’m pretty sure that I would be reckless if I had another 16oz cup of tea this late (alright, more reckless), so that is an experiment that will probably have to wait for the morning. Leaving the rating off for now, but it would be set somewhere in green-happy territory, I think.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Ricky

Did it say how much leaf to use? This seems like one of those oolongs that you need really hot water and short four ounce steeps. The 3 minute steep recommendation is probably because they expected you to use a large cup (which I see that you did). I think this one is similar to the phoenix oolong where it’s really hard to get right. What you describe seems like it has all the components — dark oolong, astringent, foresty, woody, complex, sweet, floral, buttery. The leaves don’t look like phoenix, but it might be another variation. Who knows!

sophistre

That’s an interesting thought. The quantity was listed out at 3g per serving, which sounded to me like the standard 1tsp/8oz formula, but I used 6g in 16oz. (Or rather, I should say — I used 2 tsp. in 16oz, so my grams were probably not entirely accurate, since I’ve procrastinated buying a tea scale. I always want to just buy more tea instead!).

I’ll have to order a Phoenix oolong now to try. I’ve been meaning to, but now I’m itching to compare the two. I will say that most phoenix blurbs seem to reference fruit (particularly peach or nectarine) and this had none of that (they mention green papaya, and I could see that — something far less sweet than peaches or nectarines). It may behave very similarly when steeping, though?

Any recommendations, based on your experience with your phoenix oolong?

Ricky

I guess you could always try close to boiling water and steep this for a quick 30-45 seconds with about 4oz – 6oz of water and take a sip to see how it is. If it doesn’t taste good, add a few more seconds and keep going? I have the hardest time with white teas (silver needles) and this has been what I’ve been doing.

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Comments

Ricky

Did it say how much leaf to use? This seems like one of those oolongs that you need really hot water and short four ounce steeps. The 3 minute steep recommendation is probably because they expected you to use a large cup (which I see that you did). I think this one is similar to the phoenix oolong where it’s really hard to get right. What you describe seems like it has all the components — dark oolong, astringent, foresty, woody, complex, sweet, floral, buttery. The leaves don’t look like phoenix, but it might be another variation. Who knows!

sophistre

That’s an interesting thought. The quantity was listed out at 3g per serving, which sounded to me like the standard 1tsp/8oz formula, but I used 6g in 16oz. (Or rather, I should say — I used 2 tsp. in 16oz, so my grams were probably not entirely accurate, since I’ve procrastinated buying a tea scale. I always want to just buy more tea instead!).

I’ll have to order a Phoenix oolong now to try. I’ve been meaning to, but now I’m itching to compare the two. I will say that most phoenix blurbs seem to reference fruit (particularly peach or nectarine) and this had none of that (they mention green papaya, and I could see that — something far less sweet than peaches or nectarines). It may behave very similarly when steeping, though?

Any recommendations, based on your experience with your phoenix oolong?

Ricky

I guess you could always try close to boiling water and steep this for a quick 30-45 seconds with about 4oz – 6oz of water and take a sip to see how it is. If it doesn’t taste good, add a few more seconds and keep going? I have the hardest time with white teas (silver needles) and this has been what I’ve been doing.

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Bio

Ohhh, I dunno. I like tea but I’m kind of a tea newbie. At this point I can say with authority that I may never be anything else, no matter how many teas I try…there is always something new out there.

I write a lot.

I also play way too many video games.


Ratings! (Bout time, wot?) This is a new arrangement, so…subject to change!

1-10: Not potable. First-sip disasters.

11-30: Intensely unpleasant…won’t catch me finishing the cup.

31-50: I really don’t like it…but maybe somebody else out there would.

51-70: Drinkable, but probably not the first thing I’m going to reach for.

71-90: Pretty good tea, and stuff that there’s a good chance I’ll have on-hand. Will do in a pinch at the low end, all the way up to regular visitors to my infuser on the high end.

91-100: Teas I really do not want to be without.

Location

Boston/Cambridge

Website

http://sophistre.tumblr.com/

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