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Since my focus in recent months has been on posting reviews of teas I drank ages ago, I figured it was time to take a break and highlight something I drank a little more recently. This ended up being the last of the winter 2016 Floating Leaves oolongs I got around to trying. I finished a pouch of it at the end of last week, and while I did not find it to be stale or anything (I usually take my time getting around to roasted oolongs because I want the roast to settle), it did not strike me as being particularly vibrant or likable. Compared to the spring 2016 version of this tea, which I loved, this one was just kind of lacking in comparison.

Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, vanilla, cream, and wood. After the rinse, I noted emerging aromas of honey, caramelized banana, bruised plantain, and orchid. The first infusion saw the orchid scent grow stronger. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered light notes of baked bread, vanilla, cream, wood, and orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on aromas of roasted cashew, chocolate, roasted almond, and mango. Flavors of caramelized banana, honey, and plantain emerged in the mouth while new impressions of roasted almond, butter, roasted cashew, nutmeg, mango, chocolate, steamed milk, brown sugar, apple, minerals, golden raisin, cinnamon, and toasted rice also emerged. The last infusions offered lingering mineral, nutmeg, vanilla, cream, and toasted rice notes balanced by subtler impressions of baked bread, steamed milk, cinnamon, and caramelized banana.

There was a lot going on in this tea, and while I loved the way the flavors and textures kept changing, nothing really came together in a way that was fully satisfying for me. There were some flavor components that oddly and noticeably clashed with one another, causing some of the tea’s most appealing characteristics to get lost in the mix on a number of infusions. This tea seemed like it was missing some aspect (a little vegetal character, perhaps?) that would have evened it out and provided some much needed balance. Roasted Dong Ding oolongs (even those with a very light roast) have a tendency to age gracefully in my experience, so maybe this tea had just hit an awkward phase when I decided to drink it. I’m not certain what was going on here, but I do know that this tea did not quite stand up to some of the other roasted 2016 Dong Dings I have tried very recently. In the end, I will not necessarily caution others to avoid this tea, but since it is out of stock and out of season, I won’t bother to recommend it either. There are much more appealing and immediately likable Dong Ding oolongs out there anyway.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Mango, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orchid, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

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KY

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