Red Circle never fails to impress me with their teas. I always think I know what most tea profiles taste like.
If I say “well, I don’t like xxx type of tea very much” they say, “Are you sure? Have you tried our special reserve xxx?”, and they introduce me to new tea flavor horizons that I could never have imagined. These horizons are always amazing to explore, especially with two enthusiastic, knowledgeable guides Sina and Carnie (Red Circle’s co-founders)…
On to the tea. This tea is not sold on their website, but they sell it by request and at their tea tastings around San Francisco. I am not usually a big fan of Phoenix Oolongs.. too much floral aroma and not enough body. However, this tea is one of the few exceptions to that generalization for me.
First of all, the leaves are much less oxidized than the common Phoenix Honey/Milan.. each leaf is huge, about 3 inches long, and they really do look like little yellow sticks in the gaiwan.
The tea itself brews to a rich yellow, and has a soft floral aroma similar to other phoenixes. However, this one has more substance. Rather than just being an ethereal jasmine or almond blossom scent, this smells like earthy cooked peaches.. peach pie and plum jam! Yumm.
These flavors translate into the liquor as well. Lots of rich fruity flavor, complemented by an unexpected peppery finish. It’s not black pepper – it’s more of a white pepper note that you’d find in Hot Sour soup at a Chinese restaurant. It’s random, but it somehow goes perfectly with the roasted stonefruit notes of the tea.
I’m still getting to know this one.. it’s quite complex. Each time I brew it, it keeps revealing a new layer.. this tea is one of the many treasures that I enjoy discovering at Red Circle :)