There was a mix-up at Nothing But Tea’s suppliers and this note was on a brew made from tea mislabelled as Vietnamese Imperial Oolong, so I’ve cut and pasted the note to where it belongs.
This is only my second-ever oolong, as far as I remember, and the first was the same dealers’ Black Dragon which was no different to a lot of other teas I’ve drunk, so this rather blind-sided me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but whatever it might have been this was different. I’ve never tasted anything like it and, I’m sorry, but it’s going to take rather a long-winded tasting note.
I made a mug of this with a well-heaped teaspoon brewed for three minutes. I let the water go off the boil for several minutes before brewing (they recommend 80°C). The aroma was quite strong and strangely familiar – though it took well into my second mug to place it. It’s quite difficult to describe and the best I could come up with was somewhere between good garden compost and fried bacon (but with no smokiness). That was the main element in the mouth, as well – and I mean one element – not compost and bacon but something in the middle. There were the basic tea flavour and butter, plus just a hint of cut grass.
I made a second mug, the same way and re-using the same tea. If anything, the flavour was a little stronger and now I was detecting a tiny ‘fruity’ hint.
Okay, I said the aroma was ‘strangely familiar’ – it was round about when I noticed the fruity hint that I placed it. There was a wildlife park near where I grew up and they had a tropical bird house which I absolutely loved. You could go in and walk around with the birds flying free around you. The place was planted up with all sorts of exotic bushes and was always kept hot and damp. The system they had for feeding the insectivorous birds was to have some fruit rotting in the bottom of a mesh-covered dustbin: the insects breeding on the fruit flew out through the mesh for the birds to hunt. So, imagine the aroma in there: a combination of warm green vegetation, warm moist soil, warm rotting fruit and, no doubt, a hint of warm bird-droppings. I thought it was gorgeous. And that’s the aroma of Vietnamese Imperial Oolong China Oolong (o) (OC04)(and, of course, that main element of the flavour).
I don’t think I had ‘first thoughts’ on this – I was too gobsmacked. Then I thought, “This is seriously weird stuff – don’t know what to think of it.” Then I thought, “Well …” Then, somewhere towards the end of the second mug, I thought, “I’m in love!”