Leaf Type: Oolong (Darjeeling)
Where to Buy: Tea People
A superb creation of Makaibari, this bio-dynamically grown tea walks the world between green and black. The amber liquor produced is not like any other oolong ever made. Naturally sweet tasting and with characteristic flowery undertones it also exhibits lemony, vegetal and earthy qualities. It is perfect for any time of the day and is highly recommended by our tasters at Tea People.
Makaibari tea estate is one of the first organically certified tea gardens of Darjeeling. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the town of Kurseong where the tea is grown at an altitude of around 4500ft.
Learn more about this tea here.
I’ve been looking forward to trying this Makaibari Darjoolong Tea from Tea People! Why? Well, first, I’ve tried and reviewed quite a few different teas from Tea People at this point and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve tried. Second, I’ve tried a few Darjeeling Oolong teas (but not nearly enough!) and I’ve enjoyed those! So, I was certain I’d enjoy this tea.
What I find so intriguing about Darjeeling Oolong teas is that they seem to encapsulate what I love most about both teas. I adore Oolong tea – I love that sweet taste and the thick, luscious texture of an Oolong tea. And yep … this Darjoolong has that. I also adore Darjeeling teas – especially a Darjeeling with a delightful muscatel note. Yep … this Darjoolong has that too.
I approached the brewing of this Oolong tea the same way I’d brew any Oolong: in my gaiwan. I administered a quick rinse (15 seconds in hot water) and then steeped the first infusion for 1 minute. 45 seconds would have worked quite nicely too, I think, because this cup is plenty strong. I add an additional 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion. I combine the first two infusions together into one cup, and the third and fourth infusion will combine to create my second cup, and the third cup will combine infusions five and six. And so it goes…
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, this first cup is very flavorful. More flavorful than the “average” first cup of Oolong. It is strong with mustcatel notes – beautiful, grape-y, wine-like flavors. It tastes very Darjeeling-esque, but, with a smoother, softer texture. The top notes are fruity and wine-like, with an earthier middle note with light woodsy notes. Overall, it’s sweet, but there is a slight savory note that meets my palate at about mid-sip. There is a light to medium astringency and a sweet aftertaste.
The second cup was a bit smoother than the first, the flavors were not quite as focused as the first cup. I could certainly still taste the muscatel, and the notes of wood. I taste a slight “char” to the wood this time with a slight mineral-y note. The astringency is milder this time. Still sweet and crisp, and very much like the love child between a second flush Darjeeling and a Dark Oolong.
My third cup was my favorite cup of the three! That doesn’t happen often. Usually, the second cup is my favorite, occasionally the first is the favorite, but very seldom (as in, I can’t remember the last time this has happened!) is the third cup my favorite of the tea experience with an Oolong. Now, I taste more Oolong and less “Darjeeling” notes, and perhaps that’s why I prefer this cup. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the Darjeeling notes of this tea! But, I’m more a fan of Oolong than of Darjeeling, and I love the way the Oolong notes are shining through in this third cup.
I taste peach notes along with a very subtle muscatel. There is next to no astringency in this cup, and the flavors are soft and buttery. Less of the woodsy/earthy notes are tasted, and more of a honeyed sweet peach note. Imagine a bowl of fresh, tree-ripened peach slices that have been cooked down a bit to intensify their sweet flavor, and then this bowl of peach slices is drizzled with honey. Yeah – it’s OK to drool right now! – that’s what I’m tasting with this cup. YUM!
A really lovely tea experience from this “Darjoolong!” I highly recommend this to fans of Darjeeling teas as well as fans of Oolong. And definitely take the time to go through a few infusions, it’s well worth that effort!