This is one of five samples of Taiwanese oolongs provided to me for review by Teavivre. Green oolongs aren’t really in my repertoire, but I am carefully following the guidelines to see if brewing them to Teavivre’s specs makes a difference. I am using 7 grams of tea in a 3 ounce gaiwan with 95 degree water. The dry leaves are curled and twisted, a muted jade green and smelling slightly floral and reminiscent of hay.
After a quick rinse, the first steep is 30 seconds and smells like sweet corn. TV dinner corn, according to the beau. It is a light yellow liquor, with a mild floral taste, that sweetness is still very strong but I get a note of spice like a hint of cinnamon or ginger in a sweet molasses cookie. The beau says he doesn’t get much taste but I find this tastier than I expected. There is no bitterness at all and the flavour that is there is very strong and echoes after the sip.
Steep 2 at 30 seconds is a bolder yellow with similar aromas to the first. The flavour is stronger here, greener. I think of peaches at first, and then more of boiled vegetables after the sip. This is closer to astringent but not quite there.
The leaves are HUGE now and are nearly spilling out of my gaiwan. Getting water in there is about to become a challenge. The leaves are mostly whole, with about 75% or more the leaf intact on the few that were broken. There are some sticks in there which don’t need to be but they don’t take away from the flavour.
Steep 3 at 35 seconds makes my fingers hurt! I spilled a bit on the second steep and now the heat of the gaiwan is stinging more quickly. This is tea making for the tough! :) Again I have a warm yellow liquor that smells of sweet corn, tasting less sweet than before and more of boiled greens than anything else. Again, we are getting closer to astringency. I would prefer to have a bit of that floral sweetness back, maybe in the next steep?
Side note: I do like the smaller three ounce gaiwan Teavivre sent with the teas as it allows me to drink the tea quickly and not have to re-boil the kettle constantly. I also poured the liquor off into another cup and used it as a sharing pitcher so the beau and I had the same flavours in each cup. AND I watered my tea pet. I feel like a rockstar.
4th steep at 45 seconds has finally developed some astringency. It feels like my tongue and throat are dry and I don’t like that. I seem to be losing most of the flavour here. Now the sweetness is gone and so is that nice spice note. I just get boiled greens and a dry mouth. Definitely not a fan of this steep. The beau likes this steep the best so far, saying it’s “like a high quality green but without that grassy spinachy taste.” He also says it’s very smooth. Are we even drinking the same tea?
Supper is ready now, so steeps 5+ will have to wait. I don’t think I would drink this for pleasure after it’s gone simply because I prefer darker roastier teas but it does seem to be good quality. If you are into green or unroasted oolongs, check this one out. I might have gone awry in my steeping to make that astringency come out, though I was quite careful with time and temp.
EDIT to add: The beau gives this an 80 or an 85. His favourite steep was the fourth where I loved the first with the spice note and sweet floral. Different strokes for different folks. I think he is taking the rest of the sample to work. :) Thanks Teavivre!