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!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Tealyra
One of our most popular flavored teas, Citron Potion is a special blend of supreme jasmine scented oolong that has been cured with rare jasmine blossoms, a unique blend of herbs and a combination of refreshing citrus fruits. This organic oolong tea will quickly become a favorite with the pick me up natural orange oil, hint of organic lemon myrtle and the unmistakable rare flavor and aroma of the jasmine flower.
Learn more about this tea here.
I was a little worried about the tea leaf to ‘other stuff ratio when I opened the package of Citron Potion Oolong from Tealyra. I saw nary a leaf compared to the intense amount of jasmine flowers. The package smelled amazing though, and I made to pick out enough loosely rolled oolong leaves as possible. The style of oolong looked to be a baozhong. Those are among my favorite types of oolong, so I was hopeful about this brew.
Wanting to allow the leaves to do some crazy expansion, I loading 5g of tea into my gravity steeper, and doused it with 190 degree water. To my surprise, I watched the seemingly small amount of tea leaf expand to fill over half of the gravity steeper. The leaves were large and entirely uncut. Huh. Happy to see the expansion of the leaf, I got excited to try the brew. Phew!
The steeped leaf is quite fleshing and light. Tasting the tea, I can easily recognize the bouquet of floral notes that the oolong lays out for me. Roses, peony, and lilies. They are complimented by the sweetness of the orange oil, which probably takes the cake for the topmost note in this tea. I am having a had time finding the jasmine flower essence in this tea. Perhaps the flowers are just a carrier for the orange flavoring. Either way, I am pretty happy with how this tea came out.
I tried this tea two ways, brewed hot, and cold brewed in a large jug. Both methods produce a silky mouthfeel and really great and strong oolong-y flavors and citrus. This is going to be a great summer tea to get me through the dog days of summer! That is, if it ever gets warm again, it’s been so cold and rainy in the Mile High City lately! I’m wearing gloves to type this review, my fingers are freezing. This tea makes me wistful for summer, one day it will come, right? Right??
Leaf Type: Pouchong
Where to Buy: Yezi Tea
This delicate oolong is so light in flavor that it frequently causes many a Chinese tea connoisseur to compare it to a green tea. Baozhong has been grown on the mountain slopes of the rural Pinglin District of Taipei since the eighteenth century. Yezi’s Baozhong is brought to you by local tea farmer Gao Xiu Chen. Needless to say, after over two hundred years of cultivating and harvesting it, the tea farmers of Pinglin do an excellent job with their Baozhong.
Learn more about this tea here.
Oh, this Wen Shan Pouchong Oolong Tea from Yezi Tea is so deliciously light and delicate in flavor. But, even in it’s delicateness, it’s so full of flavor. It almost seems a contradiction to say that, but if you were to taste this tea, you might better understand what I mean.
With each sip, the palate is covered with a soft, silky, creamy texture that fills the taste buds with a subtle vegetative quality and a beautiful sweetness. The vegetative notes do not last long, they soon make way for the emergence of an exotic floral taste. Orchid. Lovely!
The description on the Yezi website suggests notes of lemon … and with the first few sips up until mid-cup, I wouldn’t have agreed with that. But, after taking a few moments in between sips, I notice a bright lemon-y note in the aftertaste. Not a sour, pucker-y lemon, more like a sweet, creamy, lemon curd type of lemon note. This note emerges more as I continue to sip now, and appears close to the finish.
This pouchong can be enjoyed through several infusions. The flavor is very soft and gentle for through the first three infusions, and then by the fourth infusion, I notice the flavors become a little stronger. By the sixth infusion, the flavors begin to subside a little bit … but it’s only a minor shift in flavor and there are still a few more infusions to be enjoyed. My personal favorite infusions were the second and the fourth … so it is definitely worth taking this tea through it’s paces to get as much out of each measurement of leaves that you can!
Yet another wonderful tea from Yezi Tea!
Leaf Type: Pouchong & Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Amoda Tea
Here is a contradictory and complex tea to expand your horizons. Jasmine scented pouchong gives us a beautiful sweet, fresh and floral flavour and pu-erh offers up its earthiness. Pouchong and pu-erh are such opposites, but somehow blend so nicely together in this cup.
This is our Father’s Day Tea. One of the Amoda dads texted that he wanted something “not too fancy, just some jazzman tea”. So, we set out on a jasmine journey and kept coming back to this tea that was so unique, but not too “fancy” for dad.
Learn more about this tea here.
Learn how to subscribe to Amoda’s Monthly Tea Tasting Box here.
Before brewing it, I had my doubts about this Fu Man Chu tea blend from SerendipiTea. I wasn’t sure how I would like it – I mean, I love jasmine so I had every confidence that I’d enjoy a Jasmine Pouchong … but – I thought to myself – why did they have to add Pu-erh to it? I’m not always a fan of Pu-erh, and I worried that by adding the Pu-erh to this blend, SerendipiTea may have very well ruined a perfectly good Jasmine Pouchong.
I’m happy to say that I was wrong! This is really quite good.
The aroma of the dry leaf is more jasmine and Pouchong than it is Pu-erh. I can detect only faint earthy notes in the fragrance of the dry leaf, but the lovely notes of jasmine are abundant and absolutely delightful to the nose.
And the flavor … is very much the way the scent suggests! The Jasmine Pouchong notes are the strongest flavors, with mere hints of of the earthy flavor of Pu-erh. As I continue to sip, the notes of Pu-erh develop somewhat, but they are always more to the background, allowing the sultry beauty of the Jasmine to shine through along with the soft, silky taste of the Pouchong.
This is an extremely well-crafted blend by SerendipiTea. I’m very impressed, and very glad I got to try it. I love it when I get a tea like this from Amoda Tea – something that I probably would not have purchased on my own because I honestly would not have found myself interested or curious about a blend of Jasmine Pouchong and Pu-erh … but now that I have tried it … I’m really happy with the cup I have before me! This is great!
Leaf Type: Pouchong & Green Tea
Where to Buy: David’s Tea
Discover the power of vanilla and oolong, with a little hint of orange. It’s temptingly rich. We’ve used Pouchong tea leaves, the least oxidized of oolongs, which gives it a lighter, fresher taste. Delicious and totally addictive on its own, we also love blending this with fruit flavoured teas for a touch of creamy sweetness.
Learn more about this tea here.
I love vanilla flavored tea. I usually get all hyped up over a chocolate tea or a caramel tea, but when it comes right down to it, I find myself just as enamored by a vanilla tea as I am one of my “favorite” flavors. That creamy, smooth, sweet taste of vanilla just works so well with the warmth and soothing quality of the tea … it becomes such a comforting drink.
And I’m absolutely LOVING this Vanilla Oolong tea from David’s Tea. Usually, I find myself preferring a black tea base for the sweet, creamy, exotic flavor of Vanilla, but, the blend of Pouchong and green tea leaves just WORKS so well here.
The Pouchong offers a lightly sweet, creamy base that melds beautifully with the creamy tones of the vanilla. To be honest, I’m not tasting a whole lot of flavor contribution from the “green tea leaves” here, but the ingredient list says they’re there, and I can’t say that this blend would taste the same without the green tea. I do taste a slight vegetative note to this cup, but that could be from the Pouchong too.
The vanilla is the star of this show. It is creamy, sweet and just DECADENT. Accenting the vanilla notes are hints of citrus from lemon myrtle and orange flavoring. These notes are subtle and do not interfere with the other flavors, but they definitely brighten the overall cup and keep the flavors interesting and inviting … and keep them from becoming cloying or overly sweet.
This tea could easily be a substitute for a dessert … I think I’d just as soon have this as a bowl of vanilla ice cream! It is really just a heavenly vanilla treat – this tea. If you’re a fan of vanilla – you’ve got to try this!