This Oolong came to me in the form of a 3 gram free sample that was kindly included in a recent purchase I made over at House of Tea.
The raw material had its origins in Nantou, Taiwan, was of the Chin Shin varietal, and was harvested in the Autumn.
After plucking, the leaves were processed and roasted, and then placed in a cold storage environment for ageing, away from potentially harmful aromas.
The tea has been re-roasted every three years in order to keep the moisture content under control.
I decided to play this one as per House of Tea’s recommendations, which meant steeping the 3 grams of leaf in a 200 ml pot – in this case it was the one I picked up from the now sadly defunct Flora Tehus in Copenhagen. Water was heated to boiling, and three infusions were done – the first two at 3 minutes duration, with the third and final one being a minute longer.
Taste-wise this was an interesting tea. Yes, you could “taste the roast“, as it were, but where some heavily roasted Oolongs can be a bit “in your face” this one wasn’t. The best way I can describe it is that the “roastiness” was milder and more rounded. It was rather like the taste equivalent of sandpapering a sharp, 90 degree edge of a piece of wood until it has a smooth, radiused profile. This effect, presumably, is due to the way the tea has been carefully aged down the years.
Lurking behind the sweetness was a kind of aromatic note that I like to call “Hothouse” – something flowery that clearly isn’t roses or anything delicate, but is instead something pungent, something out of a jungle with a real physical presence that will flick the end of your nose quite hard in order to get your attention.
Complimenting this was another sensation, a taste that I had great difficulty pinning down, one that was clearly familiar to me, but from many moons ago.
It was only at the tail end of the session that I realised what it was – Skittles! Yes, Skittles, the candy. Heaven only knows the last time I ate those little sugar coated, glow in the dark syrup bombs – the very early 80s at a guess – but this tea pressed all the right memory buttons, and all of a sudden here was a facsimile of that long lost taste rolling round the inside of my mouth.
And so, mes braves, we come to the moment of truth. You’ve drunk the sample, but would you actually order the tea?
To be concise, yes! This tea has most certainly worked its way into my future plans. I’m particularly keen to see how a full sized cargo of 7 grams or so fares in a gaiwan.
It’ll probably end up on my July or possibly August shopping list, so watch this space, etc…