On this stormy day, the beau and I are steeping up a gongfu session of this oolong, provided to us for free by Teavivre. I am a roasted oolong/black tea kind of girl so this is one that I expect to be a bit more familiar with than the others Angel sent. I followed Teavivre’s steeping directions with the 7 gram sample in my small gaiwan with 95 degree water. The dry smell is quite green, like sweet hay. The leaves are rolled pretty tightly, but there are a lot of broken crumbs as well.
I sifted it before putting it in the gaiwan to take out most of the crumbs and that removed about 1/3 of the volume. Since this is my first sample I don’t know if it just happened to get crushed or if that is typical with this tea, but it was a lot more broken leaf than I would expect in any tea, let alone one that costs $26/100grams. I’ll try to remember to update this once I’ve opened the other two samples and see if it was an anomaly.
Anyway, after a quick rinse to awaken the leaves I gave this a 15 second steep. This is a very pale steep, barely a hint of colour but the aroma is very strongly of a Big Red Robe. The beau is addicted to Red Robe, so he is pumped. The taste is a bit spicy and sweet on the end of the sip, lingering on the tongue. It’s very full bodied and much more intensely flavoured than the colour would have you think. I am very glad I sifted off the crumbs as there is absolutely no bitterness here. Roasty oolong, light sweet hay and notes of spices cookies like snickerdoodles.
Steep 2 at 15 seconds again, surprisingly the leaves haven’t fully opened yet. At the moment there seem to be a lot of sticks and about 3/4 length leaves (haha!) rather than fully intact. Again, this may be an anomaly, so I’ll try to compare the others after. This steep smells much the same but with a bit of smoke. The beau says this is more green tasting, with a hint of black, tending to taste more like a black at the bottom. I disagree and find this more like a roasted oolong with a hint of smoke like the aroma. Not as much sweetness and I don’t really get the spice from before. Again, I am reminded of Big Red Robe, probably because that is one I am very familiar with.
Third steep at 20 seconds remains a light yellow and smells more of smoke than anything else. Not offensive and not strong, but like someone might be having a bonfire in the distance with some sweet smelling wood. I think that what I keep identifying as sweet is probably a floral note which I really enjoy. We both agree this tastes more smoky. Certainly no lapsang souchong, but there is smoke there from the roasting.
Fourth at 30 seconds – Getting a bit more smoky again, but the sweet floral aroma is back as well. Makes me think of colts cigarettes my Dad smoked when I was a kid. I used to lick the white part cuz it tasted good to me. This reminds me of that but I swear it is a positive association. Ahh, memories. The taste on this is a little more roasty than I would prefer with the floral taking a backseat. It almost comes off as astringent, but doesn’t quite develop. On the other hand, the beau says it is the best so far. Clearly there are different reactions to this one, just like all the others. :)
I’m worried about Steepster eating this massive missive so I shall save for now and enjoy a few more steeps offline. Will report back if anything amazing happens.
Summary: I preferred the first steep while the beau loved the last. It’s a pretty solid mix of roasted oolong and floral green oolong so it can appeal to both types of drinkers. I would like to see a lot less crumb, but that may be a fluke. Pretty nice drinking tea with no bitterness.