A Fabulous Formosa Oolong (O.P 17/7/16)

Now for a blend completely different. Have you ever heard of Oolong? Have you ever tried Oolong? Honestly until recently I hadn’t. Its not something easily accessible & didn’t really know how to find a decent one to buy online. My plan for this blog is that I will be adventurous & try as many new & different teas as possible so Oolong has been on the top of my list for a while. I wasn’t sure what one I was going to go for but just did a search on Amazon & found one that I liked the look of & I actually know the business slightly so trusted their quality.

So alongside the three standard types of tea – White, Green & Black, Oolong is one that often gets forgotten. Its between green & black teas but within that space the differences between different Oolongs are vast. The tea is semi oxidised, anything between 10-70+% which results in a real diversity between the characteristics & flavours of each & everyone of the teas.

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The tea comes from China with key areas of production being either Guangdong Province or the Fujian in the Wuyi Mountain Region or Anxi County. Both of these provinces are on the South East of China & the closest main land areas to the island of Taiwan which also is known for its oolong production. In the 18th century some of the chinese tea plants were taken to Taiwan to trial growing as the commercial demand for tea around the world was starting to build. This turned out to be a great success & though Oolong already existed in China, the Taiwanese growers excelled in production & processing of that tea in particular was something they have becoming well known for.the tea was often called Formosa Oolong as that was the Colonial Dutch name for the island.

I chose a ‘Formosa Oolong’ (hence the explanation of the history behind it) & the description sounded lovely ‘pale amber liquor with a sooth, fruity sweet flavour’ so expected it to be a fairly standard flavour. The instructions on the packet say to start with 1 heaped teaspoon & water heated to 85 degrees to be brewed for 2-4 minutes.

 

The dry leaves look almost like a black leaf tea but they aren’t all completely black with hints of reddish brown & dark green leaves in it. They are not completely whole leaves, but are broken leaves which for a darker leaf, I’d expect should help infusing a quicker richer flavour. There are some stems in the dry leaves as well.
The smell is really nice, buttery biscuits almost like digestives with hints of roasted walnuts. It definitely smells sweet & also with very slight hints of roasted fruit possibly roasted apples. It all kind of reminds me of the roasted apples with nuts & raisins spindled over the top that my mum used to bake when we were younger.

After brewing for about 2 minutes in 80 degree water (my kettle only does units of 10), the liquor is a bright orange colour, similar to that of one of the lighter black leafs I enjoy such as my Darjeeling. The smell of the liquor is still a buttery nuttiness, with a hint here & there of a slightly smoked note. Its like the lovely ‘tea’ smell of a typically breakfast tea but without the bitterness & with a bit more complexity. The flavour is divine! The notes from the smell of the dry leaves & liquor are there. It is deliciously smooth & thick like velvet with a full mouthfeel of butter & roasted nuts, almost like a praline without the chocolate. due to brewing on the shorter end of 2 minutes rather than 4 minutes, there is not bitter or have any astringency leaving the mouth dry. The flavour stays in the mouth quite a while after the mouthful is swallowed, its quite moreish.

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The wet leaves are quite bright with the reddiness enhanced from being in water. The nuttiness is also grown in scent, more of the walnuts & almost a woody smell has developed. The hints of the very very mild smokiness come through slightly more as well. Its not unpleasant, actually quite nice, like autumn as the leaves start to become golden & bonfires start to be lit.
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I really don’t understand why this isn’t a blend that we have more available?! It’s a great rich full flavoured tea without the bitterness or requirement of milk. Ive been really enjoying it in the evenings as the sweetness in the tea is nice after dinner. It will be interesting to try some other blends especially those that are different in their oxidisation. I would really recommend this blend to anyone who does like more of breakfast style blend but doesn’t like them too strong. Oolongs should be more available in shops, cafes & tearooms, its something completely different & so delicious everyone should be able to try it!

 

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