This was yet another of the Darjeeling oolongs I finished during the first week of September. Of the bunch, I found this one to be more like a second flush black tea than the others. The folks at Teabox felt that this was not a tea suitable for beginners, but I disagree with that opinion to a certain extent. Since it was (I say was in this case because this tea does not seem to be currently available, and I do not recall a 2018 version being offered) a higher oxidized oolong displaying aromas and flavors similar to a number of second flush Darjeeling black teas, I could not help thinking that it would have made a suitable gateway tea for those looking to make the leap from Darjeeling black teas to Darjeeling oolongs.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of hay, straw, wood, dark chocolate, and roasted nuts. After the rinse, I detected a heavier wood presence and new aromas of Muscatel, malt, dandelion, and grass. The first infusion revealed rose and violet aromas as well as a subtle fennel presence. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of hay, straw, grass, malt, Muscatel, rose, violet, and wood underscored by hints of fennel. The following infusions revealed distinct roasted cashew and roasted almond scents as well as aromas reminiscent of marigold and wintergreen oil. Impressions of roasted almond, roasted cashew, dandelion, and dark chocolate belatedly appeared in the mouth along with an unexpected roasted walnut note and new mineral, pear, marigold, and wintergreen flavors. The last infusions offered mineral, dandelion, dark chocolate, hay, and wood notes that were balanced by impressions of wintergreen, violet, Muscatel, pear, and roasted nuts.
This was a complex and very likable tea, but I must admit that I found it to be very heavy both on the nose and in the mouth. It offered a lot, making it a tea that rewarded very patient, focused sniffing and sipping. I would definitely not want to have it regularly, though I found it to be a very good Darjeeling oolong. Overall, it was definitely an oolong that would not shock established drinkers of second flush Darjeeling black teas as it was almost as filling as some of the heartier, more aggressive teas of that type.
Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Dark Chocolate, Fennel, Floral, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutty, Pear, Rose, Straw, Toast, Violet, Walnut, Wood