Once upon a time I had a ginseng oolong from Chaplon. They said that it had a licorice-y aftertaste which was what pulled me in. And it did! It was quite nice, actually. But it must not have sold too well, because the last time I visited Chaplon’s website, the same ginseng oolong was now being sold as ginseng fertilizer!!! Underneath it said ‘ginseng oolong’ in smaller font. I looked really hard at the pictures, and I read the description. I am positive that it’s the same one. Fertilizer.
I wish I was making this up, Steepsterites. Srsly.
This one from Nothing But Tea, however, was included in my oolong sampler pack from them, and it looks like I remember the Chaplon one looked. I believe that may actually be the reason that it didn’t swell very well. This tea has the most bizarre looking leaves ever. They don’t even look live leaves. They’re all rolled up and covered in ginseng powder, so that what you actually get are little tiny pellets with a smooth surface. They look like pebbles. I can imagine that this was not entirely pleasing to the conservative danish eye.
Interestingly NBT’s offering is apparently quite popular according to their site…
The aroma is rather difficult to decipher. It’s a sort of mix between cocoa, butter and something like fresh wood. Like if you break a twig off a tree and smell it. It’s not really one note over any of the others but it doesn’t feel like an equal mix of the three either. I don’t know what ginseng is supposed to smell like, but I expect it’s probably ginseng I can smell.
Tastewise, it’s pretty watery. I winged the brewing of it and it definitely tastes like I did something or other wrong. My immediate guess would be not enough leaf combined with not long enough steep. As it cools a bit, flavours start coming out more and it gains an almost pu-erh-y flavour. Dark and earthy. And yes, there it is. The vaguely licorice-y note at the back of the throat on the swallow.
I’ll have to remember to only make half the pot with the half sample I have left, because it definitely tastes like it could have taken a huge benefit from being stronger here and it’s actually not very difficult to imagine what it might have been like if brewed better than this.
Is it better or worse than the fertilizer from Chaplon? I can’t say. It’s been four years since I had that, so I can’t really compare there. But either way if I were to get more or this, I would definitely go for Nothing But Tea’s. Mainly because even though it is the same product I absolutely refuse to brew up and drink a tea that has been sold as fertilizer. (Also Chaplon’s is only sold in 800g batches…) I don’t know, though, whether or not this is something I want to buy. It’s good, but it’s not brilliant. I’ll have to think about whether or not it’s good enough.
Also, unrelated. Mentioned in a PM conversation today how I could really do with some more teapot storage space, so hey, have a couple of pictures! (These should also explain without the need of words why Adagio’s plastic offerings or even the Sorapot don’t appeal to me. I prefer a classic pot.)
Pots in use: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30057436@N04/4387919808/
Pots no longer in use: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30057436@N04/4387920294/