I suppose that once I’d consciously dedicated a new pot exclusively to Oolongs I was subconsciously going to be biased towards that class of tea the next time tea and cash were going to be exchanged.
This indeed proved to be the case once I sat down to put together an order over at House of Tea about a month ago. Two Oolongs made their way into my cart, a ginseng Oolong that I’ll be looking at in a later post, and this one.
House of Tea’s notes were for once a bit spartan regarding these leaves, it has to be said. Pretty much all I know about it is that this is an Oolong from Nantuo in Taiwan, and it’s been flavoured with small pieces of bergamot, which I am reliably informed is a traditional way of flavouring Oolong.
As any fule kno, bergamot is a principal ingredient used in the production of Early Grey, and sniffing the dry leaves of this Oolong will quite possibly trigger associated memories of that particular tea, but although there will be a nugget of familiarity, this is, as Eddie Cochran said, something else.
Although the dry leaf emits a low, background level Oolong aroma, the bergamot pushes to the front of the queue and signals its presence with bells, whistles, a full drum kit and several airhorns. It was a fragrant, bittersweet, two fingered jab up the nostrils, and kind of had me concerned that this tea was going to be all fruit and no leaf. I needn’t have worried.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||7 grams|
|Infusion style:||Asian / Gong-fu|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a first infusion @ 15 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 35 seconds, then @ 50, 75, then finally 120 seconds for a total of 8 infusions.|
The base tea here is a ball Oolong, so I opted for an initial 15 second infusion to kick start the opening up of the leaves.
Straight off the bat the Oolong flavour began to assert itself against that fruity onslaught, something that got progressively more noticeable as the session wore on. With each new round the Oolong-iness got stronger, and the bergamot fruitiness became less intense, although it never fully vanished.
There was a nice, lip stickingly milky body on display here.
By the fifth round the tea was starting to slip somewhat, but by upping the infusion times I was able to coax another three rounds out of the leaves.
If this summer turns out as early indications suggest it might, i.e. every bit as hot and dry as last year, then I can easily see this tea carving out a place for itself in the old stash. I reckon it would work very well indeed as a lazy, long hot afternoon under a parasol kind of a tea.
I might even set aside a few gram’s worth for a batch of cold brew. With that fruit thing and a low astringency level it could really do the business.
Watch this space, etc…