Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: The Tao of Tea
Grown at an altitude of 4800 feet and twenty miles from Darjeeling (the famous tea growing region of India), Kali Cha is one of the first authentic style oolongs from India. The region of Kurseong “The Land of White Orchids” has several tea estates known to make light, fragrant black teas.
When I opened the tin, I thought I was about to brew a black tea. It looks like a black tea. So, I steeped this the way I would normally steep a black tea: using my Breville, I steeped it using boiling water at 2 1/2 minutes. And even though this is, in fact, an Oolong, it is an incredibly forgiving Oolong, as it still withstood the higher temperature and produced a very flavorful cup.
This has many of the same characteristics of a Fujian black tea. It has that cocoa flavor in the foreground with a deep, caramel-y sweetness in the background. It is incredibly flavorful and rich. In fact, had I not looked this tea up on the Tao of Tea website and learned it was an Oolong, I’d probably be writing this review under the guise that I’m sipping a black tea.
Of course, it simply wouldn’t do for me to write a review without brewing this tea properly, so I got out my gaiwan and measured out the leaves, and heated the water to just 190° F. While it tastes very similar to the first “black tea brewed” cup, I can notice more complexity to this cup and less astringency. In fact, the sip is incredibly smooth, with very little astringency and a dry, sweet finish.
This cup seems more aromatic than the first. I can smell as well as taste a wonderful floral note … orchid? Or perhaps honeysuckle? I still taste the fabulous cocoa notes with this cup, as well as the caramel sweetness in the background. The mouthfeel is soft and velvet-y. I managed six extraordinary infusions of this tea using my gaiwan.
I definitely preferred the flavors that brewing in my gaiwan offered, but it is nice to know that this tea is so forgiving that it will let you treat it like a black and it will still offer you a fantastic cup of tea without getting all bitter on you. This tea is like a good friend – it understands that you can make mistakes … and it stays true to you despite your shortcomings.