I don’t think I’ve yet to find the oolong that’s right for me. Oftentimes I feel like Goldilocks with this type of tea. It’s either “too this” or “too that” and never quite fitting for my taste buds.
So let’s start with the First Steep, which was the only remarkable one of this oolong.
First off, again, Harney’s product here is really gorgeous. Silver-tipped russet and olive green leaves, twisted nicely. You can tell that they’re full and whole. The aroma from the dry leaf is really inviting. It’s a honeyed smell, with a blush of apricots and peaches. There’s also an underlying dark sweet smell. There’s an underlying darker tea smell to it as well, similar to what you smell in a black tea, but lighter.
Anyway, the leaves unfurl at a rapid rate in the hot water, twisting and blooming. The resulting steep was a pretty sunny orange color, and it smelled buttery and smokey. A bit roasty, with a lot of fruit notes characteristic of the dry leaves.
I was actually really surprised when I sipped this at how light the flavors are. From the smell, I was expecting something a bit deeper. Fanciest Formosa is very floral. Really floral. Not in a jasmine or a rose way, but just in a way that evokes lilies and a florist’s shop in general. There’s that almost soapy, spring note to it that’s pretty interesting. The floral is accented with notes of fruits like peaches, but these flavors pale in comparison to the floral notes.
As the cup cooled, some of the more buttery notes began to come out towards the tail end of the sip. They weren’t as aggressive and creamy as I would have liked, but at least they made themselves known. The entire cup is pleasantly sweet, but nothing to write home about.
At this point, I was actually really excited about the second steep, guessing that it’d be even greater than the first.
Second Steep (3:30, 205 degrees)
Steeped this one up again, and by this point, the leaves were completely unfurled and full. Now this steep has a bit more of a floral smell to the nose, with a hint of ripe fruit-like sugar at the end. The honey/apricot notes of the first steep are gone.
This one is already weaker than the first. The floral tastes are still there, but they’re noticeably weaker. Overall, the flavors are more fruity-sweet. Interestingly enough, when the tea was at its hottest temperature, I was getting this almost burnt sugar taste at the end of every sip. It disappeared fairly quickly, so I’m maybe thinking I imagined it, but it was there.
What marked this one was a roasty element as well. Not as pronounced as I’ve tasted in the other dark oolong I’ve tried (Imperial Formosa by Golden Moon), but it’s still there. This cup was definitely not as enjoyable as the first. Maybe the third time’s the charm?
Third Steep (3:45, 205)
This tea is done. You can just smell it in the wet leaves. There’s that vegetal note that reminds me that tea is a plant. And it’s not a nice vegetal note either. It’s that note of the leaves waving the white flag.
The taste now is remarkably flat, with mostly vegetables and roasty notes in what’s left of the body. Mainly, though, it just sort of wastes like hot water. Which is pretty disappointing, since the color has remained pretty uniform across all three steeps.
Overall, the first steep of this was pretty decent, but the second and third… not so much.
I haven’t had any success yet with multiple steeps of oolongs. I know I have some fabulous stuff from takgoti to try, but I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations for oolongs that have lasted through more than a steep? I’m not sure if I’m supposed to push past the vegetal state to get to something better.