Happy New Year all my tea peoples! I hope yours is off to a good start, filled with excellent tea of course! Mostly mine has been…really hit or miss actually, events in my life are great, but I decided it was a grand idea to catch the flu. I rang in the new year by grumbling at the neighbors for setting off fireworks, because apparently, I am a grumpy old lady now. One thing that is awesome that will make my life so much easier is I have a new computer! Ben got me a swanky new laptop as a wedding present, made a big show on how it was going to be mostly his and I could use it while he was at work, but still had to use the barely functioning one when he was home…well he was a giant tease, set the thing up entirely for me and presented it to me. This, of course, made me immensely happy…not only do I have a working (like really working and not just functioning) computer, this means we no longer have to share it, so my blog schedule won’t be so determined by his work schedule. Yay!
I agonized long and hard over how to bring the blog back from my little vacation, and decided a tea that has recently brought me some nice flu relief deserved a spotlight, so here is my look at Golden Tea Leaf’s Ginseng Oolong. It is a blend of American Ginseng and a floral High Mountain Oolong, not the usual green nuggets of gross you see offered as Ginseng Oolong, this is blending chopped up root bits with tea. Conveniently stuffed into a very large sachet (meaning the leaves can expand) as you can see from the picture you really need the pouch or will get a mouth full of ginseng bits but since the pouch is large and full of quality leaves, I don’t mind it. The aroma is quite fun, if you are into notes of earthy roots, licorice, sage, and an underlying floral, nutty, sweetness…which I am. I could see this being a very polarizing tea, just like with licorice root, you either love it or hate it, and if my long-standing love of licorice root is a clue, I am a sucker for earthy sweet roots.
I decided that yes, I am going to gongfu a bag, because why not? The aroma after the first steep is really fascinating, blending buttery floral notes of the familiar Oolong with peppery, nutty, earthy, licorice notes of the ginseng. Not something you expect every day, but very pleasant. The liquid is nutty and sweet, blending notes of spring flowers and a bit of green crisp lettuce with underlying licorice and burdock notes. I like that is has such earthy herbaceous notes without smelling at all like, well, dirt.
The taste of the first steep is really fun, but before I get to taste let me mention that mouthfeel! Like licorice it is thick, almost to the point of being slippery, this is probably due to the saponins present in the ginseng, let me say that when you have a horrid sore throat that mouthfeel is immensely soothing. The taste of the ginseng starts subtle then blooms into an intense herbaceous experience, similar to…you guessed it…licorice root, pepper, burdock root, and a bit of sage. The taste is very sweet, towards the end distant notes of lilac and honeysuckle pop up and dance with the rooty goodness of the ginseng. The aftertaste is very sweet and licorice-like, lingering for a long time.
This steep allows the Oolong to really shine, since the leaves have opened more it can compete with the strong ginseng. It starts, middles, and finishes with lilac, honeysuckles, lilies, and a lettuce and sage green note. Of course there is the ginseng, giving a sweet rooty note of licorice and earthy burdock with just a hint of pepper. The mouthfeel is still super thick and slippery and really does a grand job of coating the mouth.
If it is not obvious, I kinda fell in love with this blend. I love the way the ginseng tastes with the Oolong, and knowing that it is quality material and not the honestly quite gross green nuggets I have had previously makes it infinitely better. Ginseng is used for its supposed health benefits, and while it was very soothing on my sore throat, it didn’t really lessen my flu any, but since I rarely drink teas (even herbal ones) for things other than taste this does not bother me. I did really enjoy the taste, and it lasting many steeps (I got five really solid steeps) made it a good companion for my sick self. If you don’t want to toss a pouch in a gaiwan it does taste really good brewed in a mug, the ginseng is very strong that first steep though so if you are wanting a lighter ginseng then go the gongfu route. I have one more pouch of this tea left and I will probably drink it before bed tonight, then I will need to get more because, sickness or no, this tea is right in my level of taste likes! Again, Happy New Year everyone!!