Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Shanti Tea
The thin and spidery black and gold leaves of this rare oolong tea from the Uva District of Sri Lanka unfurl into a sweet and malty, deep gold infusion with a hint of muscatel grape and a fruity aroma.
Before I read the purveyor’s description of a tea, I like to take my first couple of sips to see how much of my first impression matches the description without allowing my thoughts to be influenced by what the description states. In the case of this Spiderweb Oolong, I would say that the tasters at Shanti Tea and I are pretty much in agreement.
The dark leaves unfurl very slowly in my gaiwan – beckoning me to infuse them again and again until they are fully opened. I steeped them six times and obtained amazing flavor with each infusion.
The aroma of the brewed tea is nutty and even a little malty, somewhat reminiscent of a dark ale. There is also a grape-y, wine-like note to the fragrance.
This Oolong reminds me a bit of a Darjeeling with it’s muscatel-like presentation and light flavor. The sip starts with a fruit-like sweetness, and towards mid-sip, I can taste the malty notes. This is a thinner malty tone than say, an Assam might offer, but, it adds an interesting dimension to the overall cup.
Toward the finish, there is a slight astringency (very slight) and that is where the muscatel notes really are noticeable. I can also taste hints of wood. The finish is sweet and crisp and slightly dry. The aftertaste is clean, but with that sweet, fruit-like flavor that is somewhere between grape and black currant.