Okay, this was one of my first sipdowns of the month. At the time I decided to crack this tea open, I had actually been looking forward to trying it for some time. I understood it to be a throwback tea, the sort of Taiwanese oolong that was popular in the United States prior to the introduction of many of the higher end teas that are more popular and widely known among serious American tea drinkers today. Naturally, I was curious about it. After working my way through my sample pouch, I can honestly say that it was kind of what I expected it to be, dark, roasted, and simpler than many of the Taiwanese oolongs to which I have grown accustomed over the years.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 3 grams of the loose leaf and stem mix in approximately 8 ounces of 205 F water for 3 minutes. This infusion was then followed by two additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 5 minutes and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected a woody smell emanating from the dry leaf and stem mix. After infusion, I noted cinnamon, peach, malt, and honey aromas. In the mouth, I detected notes of cinnamon, honey, malt, wood, brown sugar, prune, toasted walnut, and roasted carrot that were underscored by delicate hints of peach. The second infusion did not see the nose change all that much aside from the introduction of subtle roasted carrot and toasted walnut scents. The tea liquor was also largely the same in the mouth, though I began to note subtle impressions of minerals and somewhat stronger peach notes. The third and final infusion saw minerals come out on the nose. Notes of minerals, wood, and roasted carrot dominated the mouth, though I could still detect some fleeting impressions of toasted walnut, brown sugar, malt, and cinnamon in the background.

All in all, this tea was pretty simple, but also pretty decent. I would not choose it over any of the higher end Taiwanese oolongs that are readily available these days, but this tea was still pleasant and an educational experience to boot. Drinking something like this also gave me an appreciation for just how much the American tea market has expanded over the course of my lifetime. We have gone from more or less only having access to oolongs like this to being able to hop online or truck over to the nearest tea shop and pick from tons of unique and high quality Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Thai, Kenyan, and Ceylonese oolongs. I remember drinking teas like this at Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants as a child, and though a tea like this would not be something I would reach for regularly today, it is the sort of tea I would choose to knock back on a cooler afternoon or evening when I am not in the mood for something complex or exotic requiring patience and consistent focus. In other words, it was an appropriate beverage choice for this time of year, especially for a late evening at work or a lazy weekend afternoon. In the end, I cannot justify giving this tea a high rating, but for what it was, there was nothing wrong with it. Try it if you are curious about historical tea styles that were widely consumed in the U.S. and other Western countries prior to expanded access to higher quality teas.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Carrot, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Peach, Roasted, Walnut, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 3 g 8 OZ / 236 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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