Here we go with my first dark oolong!
Well, I was badly burned by my last oolong and my temperature problems. I have a little bit more of the Orchid Temple that I scortched, but I wanted to try something different. So I pulled out Imperial Formosa, the darker oolong of the two in the Golden Moon sampler.
I opened the little packet, and inhaled. Hrm. Interesting! The smells are not unlike black tea, but it’s lighter. I’m getting somewhat roasted notes, but there’s a sweetness underlying it.
I was more careful with temperature this time around, so I shot for 190 but ended up somewhere closer to 185. Can I talk for a second about how pretty oolongs are? Of course I can. This is my review. The leaves are a gorgeous chestnut brown, twisted and accented with silvery bits. Very, very pretty.
So I tossed a very heaping tsp into my pot, and steeped this one up. Oolongs are so pretty in the pot. This one slowly, slowly unfurled, and the water began to change color at a snail’s pace. Many of the leaves were sort of like in suspended animation; neither floating to the top of the pot, nor lingering at the bottom. Just hovering on invisible jet packs. Very pretty and cute.
When it came time for the pour, I was actually getting quite excited. The wet leaves here smell fruity-roasty now, and the light amber infusion… okay, it’s mouth-watering. There’s only the faintest hint of smoke, but beyond that, I’m getting buttery fruits. Something akin to apricots and peaches, with some date notes.
So I took the first sip and… oolong success! This one is complex and yummy and there’s something for each part of my mouth. The brunt of the flavor is fruity goodness. The stonefruit flavor really comes on strong and sweet, with a high nectar-like note. Surprisingly, there’s somewhat of a mouthfeel here, that evokes those little fruit cups filled with peaches that I used to eat when I was a kid. Sort of like drinking the liquid left behind (which was always the best part, to me).
The roasty notes are very light, and if I suck the infusion in at high speeds ala wine tasting, I get a hint of a cedar-like feeling from the roastiness. I can’t find the orange blossom in here, but I think I understand the chestnut tasting note listed by Golden Moon. It’s sort of the lingering sweetness left on my tongue, that’s savory-sweet similar to the feeling left by chestnuts. It’s not really the taste of chestnuts, but the tastes associated with chestnuts. If that makes any sense at all.
The only complaint I have is that there really is a lot of astringency here. It’s associated with sweet flavors, which is awesome, but after several sips in a row, my tongue sort of feels stuck to the roof of my mouth.
I’m really loving this one. If it can hold up to multiple steeps, we might just have a winner on our hands. I’ll probably rate this one high anyway, just because the first steep is really very delicious!
My mom tasted this, and she went, “Ooh, this is delicious! Fruity!” So there is approval on multiple levels here!
Yay for good oolong experiences!
Second Steep (5:00, 185)
The second steep came out a teeny bit darker than the first and the infusion didn’t smell as wonderful. Not that is smells bad, it just doesn’t really have as strong and delicious of a fragrance. There are some roasty notes mixed with the faintest wiff of fruit, but it’s not anything to get excited about.
The taste this time is definitely weaker than before, and definitely skewed towards a general sweet taste instead of a taste coming from any sort of fruit-related yummyness. The roasty taste is somewhat mesquite and interesting, but it’s not very strong. I’m not sure how much longer these leaves are going to last on me. I think I’ll try one more infusion and see how it goes.
Third Infusion (5:00, 185)
I’m finally tasting that cigar-like sweetness that Auggy mentioned in her review, and it’s sort of a deterrent from continuing. The flavors are also getting really weak and muted, and the sugary taste is too much in the forefront to be enjoyable. At least there’s no astringency! But there’s also nothing interesting, either. The body is thinner overall. I’m going to stop here.
So lackluster subsequent steeps, but the first was absolutely delicious. I’m not sure how to rate this, since oolongs are supposed to sustain over multiple steeps, but I really liked that first infusion.