First Infusion (2:30, boiling)
So today is Oolong Day! Why? Because I said so. I’ve picked out an oolong and I’m pretty much going to be drinking it all day. This is my first non-flavored oolong in loose leaf, so I’m pretty excited.
So I opened up the little packet for orchid temple, and the smell that comes out of the dry leaf is … toasty. In a black tea sort of way. The leaves here are rolled, in a very schizophrenic, oolong sort of way. Not quite little pellets, very asymmetrical… but a pretty green. When I poured the water over them, there was a bit of a frenzy, and a verifiable forest grew in my pot. I can see why people want to brew oolongs in glass, because the leaves are quite beautiful, and they expand very nicely.
The wet leaves smelled a bit vegetal, but the medium-gold infusion… oh. my. gah. Seriously. It smells delicious. Buttery and warm and a bit bake-y, like shortbread. Or butter cookies. With a bit of a floral undertone. Very, very mouthwatering, indeed.
My first sip, as a result, was very disappointing. This oolong, on first steep, tastes absolutely nothing like it smells. The taste is actually pretty toasty, and vegetal. A similar profile to a Chinese green. There is barely the vaguest hint of the smell (but I’m probably imagining it, because I want it so badly!), and a fair bit of astringency. My mouth feels pretty dry. Even as it cools down, there’s really nothing to write home about. The flavors are very bland and unpronounced. Sad panda face.
But I know that oolongs tend to get better on their second and third infusions, so I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt. I’ll be drinking lots of it the entire day, and recording the results, right here!
Second Infusion (3:00, boiling)
So I steeped this again, and the infusion was a bit darker this time. The smell from the wet leaves was completely veggie-like, and it had creeped into the smell of the juice this time. There was still a buttery component, but it was balanced by a very cooked green smell.
So the taste has evolved a little bit, but nowhere that I wanted it to go. The aftertaste is now really sweet (the flavor hasn’t left my tongue since I stopped drinking it 10 minutes ago), but the taste on the forefront of the sip is pretty vegetal and slightly bitter. The astringency has definitely smoothed out, but it certainly doesn’t taste like it smells, which is extremely disappointing. Even when I slurp the tea, and run it along the different parts of my tongue for taste sensations, there’s no fireworks. Funnily enough, I swallowed the wrong way and ended up coughing a lot. Only then did I taste buttery goodness. Bah. We’ll keep going, though…
At this point I’m feeling that boiling water might not have been the best idea for this tea. Golden Moon specifically states boiling, but this oolong is definitely on the greener end of the scale. Most of the flavor profile is kind of like a weedy Chinese green. Not the most pleasant taste in the world at all, but we’ll see what happens.
Third Infusion (3:30, boiling)
Here we go again… I’m seriously starting to get more and more disappointed. This steep was around the same color as the other two. The smell, however, was almost completely green. And there was a metallic tang of an undertone that made me wrinkle my nose.
The taste… the taste is bizarre. I think I might be getting a bit more of a creamy taste now, but it’s mixed with a very oceanic, briny taste. Like it’s been steeped in water where crustaceans have been frolicking. So strange. As it cooled, the marine component became more pronounced. The sweetness is still there in the aftertaste, but it’s a bit muted, and the astringency is back. I threw out around 3/4 of the cup. Now I’m just curious to see what subsequent steeps will taste like. If this is oolong in general, then I don’t think I’m a fan, and I’m starting to get discouraged. :(
Fourth Infusion (4:00, boiling)
Last steep for me. Just dumped the leaves, because I’m really sick of this, and it’s not getting any better. At all. I want to give a shout out to the leaves here, because they’re beautiful and complete once unfurled. If only the taste matched it!
So on this last steep, the leaves actually smelled buttery again! And when the tea was piping hot, it too shared that buttery quality! I was pretty surprised, so I was excited to try it. Annnnd… the taste is really strong bitter. I thought I might have tasted that butter for a second, but it was completely gone once the tea cooled. Not good. So these leaves are being dumped.
Overall, I’m really disappointed with this, and I’m sad that my first oolong had to go this badly. Hopefully my next one will be better!