I received this tea from the 2017 regional oolong group buy hosted by Liquid Proust
The dry leaf is a very tightly rolled dark brown to black balls that have a strong roasted smell with the expected biting oolong scent following close behind. I brewed up 5g in my 200ml kyusu with 190F water and 30 second infusions.
The liquor is a clear dark orange/light brown reminiscent of a black tea. It smells sweet and roasty, more like a light roast coffee than any tea I have ever smelled. I want to accentuate that the sweet smell is overpowering like I have my head over a pot of burning sugar, but with the promise of some nice umami flavor behind the sweetness. The mouthfeel is like a thin vegetable broth with no lingering sweetness, but rather, a lingering char. The taste is heavy upfront charcoal, with sweetness but less than I was expecting, like vegetables that I meant to char on a grill but burnt instead. You can feel the granules of char on your teeth like a charcoal toothpaste I used in the past. Not what I was expecting but not bad with a high fired tea and no rinse. Sitting with the tea for a while I get some caramel out of the sweetness.
The second infusion is a notably darker color an amber/medium brown. The aroma looses a bit of sweetness trading off for more umami savory notes. The char is still upfront but loses some of it’s overpowering nature while the sweetness is more pronounced. I’m tasting fresh honey roasted peanuts and the traditional oolong flavor is shining through. The aftertaste has a smooth roast that I get from good coffee.
The roasted smell dies down a bit more on the third infusion, as do the umami notes, with the sweetness still there in force. The taste is much lighter/smoother and I get the caramel notes others have described more than the previous burnt sugar. This is my favorite infusion so far… maybe ill rinse it next time and see if I get these notes out of infusion #2
The fourth infusion looses more char and gains more sweetness, it’s now close to indistinguishable from coffee now. Turned the temperature to 200F for the fifth infusion, and it was like a slightly more flavorful #4. The sixth infusion on are all very similar as well, with the tea dying off around steep number 9.
This is a tea for coffee drinkers… seriously I think I can convert a coffee fanatic with this. For me it was an interesting complex experience with a tea that is a bit all over the place in it’s smell and flavors. I would definitively give it a good rinse and time to fully unfurl before my next session with this tea.
SECOND TEA TASTING (follow up a few weeks later)
I followed TeaLifeHK’s advice this time with a boiling rinse, and 200+F water using 30 second steeps in my 200ml ceramic kyusu with 5.5g of tea.
The wet leaf smells like sweet roast, I wish I didn’t already bias myself, but again I get fresh roasted coffee beans with a nice oolong backbone coming through.
The liquor color is a STRONG reddish-brown with a pleasant roasted sweetness reminiscent of honey roasted peanuts. The taste is very nutty again being similar to peanut brittle with a nice burnt sugar aftertaste. This session is more pleasant with the rinse allowing the leaves to open up before my first steep letting the caramel notes come through.
The tea continues to produce good flavor for about six steeps slowly loosing it’s sweetness. I think this tea is unique among roasted oolong’s for its sweet profile, where in most roasted oolongs I would be looking for grilled vegetables or a savory soup.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Char, Coffee, Peanut, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Vegetable Broth