This was another of my sipdowns from either late May or early June. I’d been trying to clean out the vast backlog of black tea reviews before moving on to any of the oolongs, but I have ended up having a crazy couple of weeks and started falling way behind again after making great progress toward getting everything up to date. Whenever I see an oolong from Taiwan simply labeled as “red” or something similar, I instantly get the impression that I am not dealing with a higher end tea, and usually that is true, but I often find myself enjoying such teas. That was certainly the case with this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, brown sugar, raisin, roasted almond, plum, chocolate, and praline. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut, orchid, grass, and sugarcane. The first infusion brought out orange zest, cherry, violet, baked bread, and straw aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, baked bread, roasted almond, raisin, cream, plum, cherry, orange zest, sugarcane, and grass notes that were chased by hints of cinnamon, praline, brown sugar, violet, and roasted peanut. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of roasted pecan, blueberry, pine, raspberry, nutmeg, and red apple. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of violet, brown sugar, cinnamon, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of chocolate and hints of straw and spinach. I also noted impressions of minerals, blueberry, roasted pecan, red apple, raspberry, pine, and nutmeg. As the tea faded, I found that the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, orange zest, pine, cherry, sugarcane, and cream that were underscored by hints of baked bread, red apple, grass, straw, spinach, roasted pecan, orchid, and roasted almond.

This was a tremendously drinkable and enjoyable oolong. Though roasted Si Ji Chun has been hit or miss for me over the years, I found a lot to appreciate about this one. Fans of Taiwanese roasted oolongs would probably be into it and would find it to be a very nice, rewarding daily drinker. I could also see it working as an introduction to roasted oolong for curious drinkers.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pecan, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Red Apple, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Violet

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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