This was the other half of my early March order at House of Tea, both of which were Oolongs; one pretty – Wu Yi Bai Rui, and one unusual – this’un.
This tea hails from Moc Chau in North Western Vietnam. The raw material was grown at an altitude of about 1000 metres. The leaves were hand plucked, and then oxidized to a level somewhere around 70%.
In their notes for this tea House of Tea state that in Moc Chau District many teas are made according to Taiwanese produced methods, with cultivars that are more or less the same as those used in Taiwanese tea production.
They go on to describe this tea as a good example of a well made Vietnamese Oolong, with a fruity aroma and taste.
The dry leaves have an untidy look about them, almost Bai Mu Dan like, with what appeared to be a good amount of broken leaf and fine particles. This suggested that the session might be, amongst other things, a bit on the short side and a tad messy.
|Water Used:||Willy’s Premier|
|Weight of dry leaf:||7 grams|
|Infusion style:||Gong-fu / Asian|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a 1st. infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 25 seconds for a total of 5 infusions|
After the first infusion the hot, wet leaf had an interesting aroma, that was quite unlike most Oolongs. I picked up nary a whiff of roast or mineral content, instead getting a huge blast of hot house flowers and pungent rain forest blooms.
Accompanying that aroma was a complex, fruity flavour. The only way I can describe it is like chewing one of every flavour from a packet of Opal Fruits at once, and having the competing, rival flavours duke it out inside your mouth for supremacy.
That first round brought with it a tea strainer totally clogged up with detritus, and the inside of my gaiwan lid was plastered with small bits of wet, broken leaf that seemed to get everywhere and stick like a determined limpet. Both strainer and gaiwan lid had to be scraped clean after each round right up until the end of the session.
It has to be said though, this was a minor inconvenience, and a small price to pay for that tasty, fragrant liquor.
The second steeping brought forth a slight hint of bitterness, always a concern with a lot of broken leaf in your brewing vessel, but it never grew beyond that initial nip in subsequent rounds.
My fears about the length of the session proved to be well founded. The fifth infusion was OK, but an attempted sixth rang no bells and ticked no boxes. No flag was raised, and no-one saluted. There had been no fade out here, or a slow decline in quality, it had been more a case of crash, boom, bang – game over.
Still, I managed 5 good steepings – quality over quantity, and all that.
Just out of curiosity I tried steeping these leaves Western style in an Ikea Upphetta, thinking that the mesh filter in the plunger might be better suited to dealing with the small bits of broken leaf than the gaiwan was. I dropped six grams in the 400 dl pot, and using boiling water I got two fine infusions at 1½ and 2 minutes duration, that in terms of flavour and aroma roughly corresponded to the first two and the last three rounds using the gaiwan setup.
In conclusion, then, if you’re looking for something a bit different Oolong wise then this tea is certainly worth checking out.
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