I’m convinced this is the best quality tea Peet’s offers on a regular basis. They do (or used to, anyway) offer a DanCong special for mail orders for a couple weeks around January after they got the tea in. The tea buyer has a strong tendency towards Indian teas, but it’s obvious from talking to him that DanCongs are a special exception for him to the point where he purchases incredibly small production lots of only enough for a dozen or so 1oz tins. Those teas are a massive step above this one, but the standard commercial Phoenix Oolong is good, especially considering the size of the company.
A week ago I stopped into one of Peet’s locations for a pot of this and was smacked with disappointment, even after taking control of the variables, which most of the staff do for you, removing that control from the customer. I’ve certainly felt disappointment with a tea I’ve known to enjoy before, but it’s rare that I’ll be really be affronted with the emotion. Today, I’m taking more control and choking up the last experience to water that’s been reheated too many times and a canister of leaves that’s been exposed to coffee-scented air too often. Fortunately, this time is the best tasting I’ve ever managed to get from this tea.
Considering where this tea stands compared to other Phoenix Oolongs, the amount of excitement/boredom inherent in it, the level of consistency of leaves, and the “volume” of expression it conveys I certainly consider this a “good” tea, but I can’t justify a rating of 60 or higher.
9g with 175ml in a rong tian style zi ni yixing pot. Single rinse immediately poured off. Only did three infusions with 85 degree C water – 30sec, 15 sec, 15 sec.
Leaves range from very long to very small… black and very dark green with a grayish reflection. Dried apricot dominates the dry fragrance. Wet leaves are much lighter, mossy green with yellowish stripes. Wet leaf aroma is a little more herbal-spicy, like basil, with a peach fruit note. There’s also a toasted grain note very similar to plain Cheerios. Liquor doesn’t carry much aroma compared to the wet leaves, but has a distinct toasted honey note. Liquor is pale yet richly hued yellow and clear.
Flavor and mouthfeel is like honey dissolved in water and a light peach accent in the nose. Wheat toast sweet and sour in the aftertaste. Balanced, medium body. Faint cedar woodiness in afteraroma. Really straightforward in expression of sweet, sour, slightly weighty, and crispness. Slight peppery astringency in the aftertaste along the sides of the tongue.
Doesn’t shift a whole lot over three brews.
Not spectacular, but easy drinking, and something I don’t mind having alongside food as I don’t have to worry about delicate complex characteristics I may be missing out on.