Hooray! Celebration! Happy Dance! Ok, not so much of the happy dance, it might cause my headache to come back. Yes, I am celebrating the headache I have had…for weeks…taking a break for a bit. I can still feel it poking around, it will be back in a few hours, but a break is always a reason to celebrate. It is a thing that I have dealt with all my life, stupid week to month long splitting headaches that at times make thinking rather hard, I was so worried I was not going to be able to write this evening. So, I am glad, my pain is eased and I can do the thing I look forward to most each day…rambling about tea!
First I have to admit that I made a derp. Remember my epic road trip with my mom where we had tea in a hotel room, right about a month ago? Well, that night Teavivre contacted me to do an Oolong series on my blog, perhaps answering them after hours on the road was not the best idea…since I readily agreed…to review one of the teas I have already reviewed. So what does one do when they need to review a tea they have already reviewed (and recently so it is not even reviewing a new harvest) the review it with a different brewing style! Previously I reviewed Teavivre’s Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Fujian the Chinese Gong Fu Method using my Gaiwan, and I will be honest, it has been over a year I think since I brewed an Oolong Western Style, as soon as I got my Gaiwans and Yixing teapots, I never went back. So, let’s have a little fun and break out the bone china teacup, shall we? The aroma of the leaves is pretty much the same as last time, a blend of sweetness, char, and richness. It starts with cocoa, tobacco, woodiness, and sweet molasses, this fades into baking bread, honey, char, and a finish of distant flowers.
Since the leaves are so big and I did not want to crush them, I tossed them into my funky thrift store find, yeah, it is part of a glass double boiler, but works really well as a small teapot, cha hai, and steeping vessel, I like using non-tea intended things as tea things. The aroma of the brewed leaves is pretty intense after that long (ok 2 minutes is not that long) of a steep, there are notes of charcoal, molasses, tobacco, wet autumn leaves, cocoa, and honey. It is thick and heavy, reminding me of a wet autumn day where the smoke hangs low in the valley. The liquid, wow, that is also pretty intense, blending the tobacco and char with the molasses and cocoa, with a tiny finish of honey.
So, this tea might have been what killed my headache, kinda like smelling salts on a fainting Victorian lady, it could not survive the potency that is Western Brewed Da Hong Pao. The taste starts off rich and stays rich till the end, with a beginning of molasses, cocoa, and spicebush. This transitions to sharp charcoal and tobacco, and oak wood with the tobacco taste lingering, giving the finish a bit of a bitter bite. Not an unpleasant bitterness, mind you, well if you are a fan of bitter things (yes, I eat kale and like my chocolate super duper dark, I love the bitter side of things) you will find this very pleasant. It is not a dry, tannic, mouth-puckering bitterness, the mouth feel is actually quite smooth.
Round two, I doubled my time and even with the longer steep noticed the aroma is milder. Not so much sweetness and richness, more woodsy with a touch of cocoa and wet leaf pile. The taste is super mild, like the aroma it is very woodsy. All the bitterness, tobacco notes, and cocoa notes are gone from this steep, I am left with oak wood, peanuts, and a touch of sweet baking bread. So the first steep was intense, I really enjoyed it, the second steep left me bored, I still prefer the journey of Gong Fu for Oolong teas, but might go Western with a Yancha next time my headache starts to rear its stupid…um…head.