As I delved into my tea cabinet recently, I realized I had been stockpiling oolong teas. Where did they all come from?!
Since the season is finally starting to turn, and oolong teas always make me think of spring, it seemed like a good time to try them all.
So I had an Oolong-A-Thon and brewed ten samples from my stores. The numbers below aren’t a “best-of” ranking, but they roughly move from most delicate in flavor to the most potent in flavor. . . . .
- Alishan High Mountain from Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf – The dry leaf smells sweet and nutty, and this sweet-oat flavor is echoed in the first steep with additional notes of green melon. The second steep is nuttier still more oat than fruit, though a bit of the green flavor lingers on the aftertaste. (See a review from my fellow Sororitea Sister).
- Alishan High Mountain Eco First Pluck from Terrior Tea Merchant – The dry leaf smells like sweet grass and sour fruit. The first steep is not sour at all, but very green and buttery, with more interesting notes like citrus or bok choy coming out on later steepings.
- Ding Dong Oolong from Eco-Cha – Prior to brewing, this tea smells dry and earthy, like hay or dried grass. Brewed, the first steep is roasty and savory, with just a hint of starchy sweetness in the aftertaste. The second steep has nutty, brown rice flavors, but still remains light and drinkable. (See a review from my fellow Sororitea Sister).
- Ding Ding Oolong from Cloud Nine (Spring 2015) – The first steep features fruit notes like plum, grape, and currant. There are almost red wine or acai berry flavors. This potent fruit flavor drops off in the second steep, with more green notes and fewer berries, more like green grapes and white wine, though the brew never got too bitter or dark even with longer steep times.
- Ping Lin Pouchong from Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf – These long dark tea leaves smelled like caramel or burnt sugar when dry, but their first steep was surprisingly green and floral. The brew turned out to be slightly buttery, with almost-seaweed notes. The second steep wasn’t distinctly different, with similar savory tones and a smooth, buttery aftertaste.
- Jin Xuan Milk Oolong from Teavivre – The first steep of this tea ended up tasting like sour grapes and bright florals, with a hint of roasted nuts and a supremely smooth mouthfeel. The second steep increased the almost-honey flavor and feeling of the tea, and brought forward some either, grassier notes to the brew, and maintained the milky smooth texture.
- Tie Kwan Yin Oolong from Tea Ave – The first steep was surprisingly roasty, with notes like warm toast or freshly baked bread. There were no green or floral flavors, but the starchiness was well-balanced with an herbaceous earthiness. The second steep brought out a stronger roast, and slightly bitter, dry hay notes, though the flavors were still balanced and very drinkable.
- Shui Xian Oolong from Origins Tea – The tightly rolled dark leaves, smelled like hay and earth slightly bitter, though the first steep had a pop of tart currant, quickly buried under strong, roasted almond flavors. This tea had a dry mouthfeel, very nutty and savory, with even a hint of smoke, like an oolong for lapsang-lovers. The second steep brought out even more sweet, starchy, marzipan flavors.
- Alishan Charcoal Fire Heavy Roast from T-Oolong Tea (Spring 2012) – Despite the name the first steep of this tea did have some bright notes like a greener alishan oolong but with a distinct, roasted, malty depth. There are some charcoal notes: mineral and toasted. Both steeps brew up dark in color, the second steep maintains the toasted rice and malt flavors as the first steep, but develops a smoother mouthfeel. (See a review from my fellow Sororitea Sister).
- Gingseng Oolong from Enjoying Tea – I tried this tea last, because it was the only flavored oolong in this grouping. Anything with added flavor was bound to be more potent than just the leaves alone. This tea smells sweet in the dry leaf, and brews sweet and sour with a very strong passionfruit flavor: green and slightly tropical. The second steep is earthier, less sweet and more like wet foliage, still some lingering passionfruit notes, especially on the aftertaste.
And there you have it– the results of my Oolong-A-Thon!
Like black or green teas, there are many variations and flavors to be had from trying a variety of oolong teas. From my point of view, there wasn’t a bad tea in the bunch, and each had its own flavors to suit the changing weather or my variable tea cravings.
There is certainly an oolong out there that will fit your tastes as well. Happy oolong brewing!