Sample obtained from purchase. Brewed in a gongfu session with a porcelain gaiwan. Since I decided to brew the entire sample, I slightly changed the website’s steeping directions: flash rinse, 20 seconds, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 4 minutes (the gaiwan overflowed with water at the last infusion).
The dry leaf smells a little bit floral but mostly of ginseng, the latter of which is intensified when I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan. Once rinsed, the wet leaf smells roasted, absent of ginseng and floral notes. (Both the oolong – the Four Seasos variety – and ginseng were roasted for 4-6 hours, according to the website.)
The liquor looks beautiful in morning sunlight: clear golden yellow. Halfway through the session, though, when the ginseng has completely dissolved, many small leaf bits pour from the gaiwan. Of all the infusions, the first tastes most like ginseng. I’ve never had ginseng before. It’s like a sticking sweetness, reminiscent of stevia and licorice, and clings to the back of the tongue. Beginning with the second infusion, vague floral notes from the oolong appear. The ginseng and oolong are balanced for the remainder of the session and complement each other. The sweet aftertaste lingers for at least half-hour.
This is my first Ginseng Oolong. I’m not sure what to think of it and this particular one that Teavivre sells. It seems like it can grow on me. I think I should try it again Western style to see how it steeps. It didn’t undergo much evolution during the gongfu session since the quality of the oolong wasn’t great (totally understandable given it’s meant to be coated with ginseng in this case). For what it is to me now, I remain neutral about the taste but I am positive about the quality. It wasn’t off-putting at all. I commented on the numerous leaf bits in case you wondered you should use a strainer or not prior to trying this out for yourself and didn’t know what you were getting into (I didn’t myself).