I… have an addiction. Yes, I admit it freely. The second I discover a straight tea that tastes of honey, I am on that stuff like a cat to catnip, and will drink it obsessively until my stash disappears. So! When the lovely CuppaGeek offered me a sample of Bitterleaf Tea’s Firebird 2015 oolong, I was ALL over that. Instantly. According to the folks at Bitterleaf, this tea has a “honey-like sweetness and is closest thing they’ve ever experienced to drinking a sticky bun”. With these leaves hailing from Feng Huang Chao Zhou, the birthplace of dan cong oolong, I knew I was in for a serious treat.
In order to unlock the maximum flavor of this tea, Bitterleaf suggests that I use “spring or remineralized water with 30-80 ppm total dissolved mineral solids”. Now, I unfortunately seemed to have left my analytical chemistry lab back in college, and do not buy bottled water, so I will just be using good ol’ tap water.
Brewing instructions for this tea cannot be found on the package itself- one must visit Bitterleaf’s website and do a bit of rooting around to find this information. They suggest using a flash rinse method to best enjoy the tea- however, since I don’t have quite enough leaves to be able to do so, used a longer 30 second steep in my gaiwan for each brew.
Despite my tea likely having less of a ‘potent’ flavor than it should due to my steeping method, and having a relatively light color, I was still quite impressed by the robust nature of this oolong. The brew is very sweet and pleasantly full bodied without being bitter, with an added complexity of smokiness that I’d expect from a dancong oolong. The aftertaste leaves those notes of sweet honey to linger for a while longer, keeping a smile on my face long after the last of the tea disappeared from my cup.
I really enjoyed Firebird 2015, and could only imagine the honey-hazed stupor I would find myself in for several days if I had a full tin of this tea. Bitterleaf clearly curates their tea with care, and I am excited to discover what else this company has to offer!
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Bitterleaf Teas
Our Firebird Dancong is a delicious medium oxidized oolong, grown in Chao Zhou, near the North-East corner of Guangdong province. This Song Zhong variety of oolong has a honey-like sweetness that translates into a honey-coloured soup, and quite possibly the closest thing we’ve experience to drinking a sticky bun. It is fragrant and sweet with a slightly roasted taste.