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: Mandala Tea
We are so excited about this tea and judging by the repeat buys, our customers are too! It possesses a creamy aroma with hints of coconut, hard toffee candy along with the classic floral undertone present in so many high-end Taiwanese oolongs. The producers aromatize high quality leaves from plants that grow in altitudes between 1,600 and 3,200 feet above sea level.
The Fall 2014 crop delivers the dessert-like notes in early infusions and a beautiful, balanced cup. In later steepings aromas of lilac and gardenia begin to move more forward. Production is an artform and those who create it are quite guarded about proprietary steps in processing. Through many tastings, our appreciation for their craft only increases. No “off” aromas and not a trace of artificial or chemical flavor. It is a wonderfully complex tea, sure to please most any tea drinker. And if they weren’t a tea drinker to begin with, they will be after trying this!
Learn more about this tea here.
Never having Mandala Tea before, I was quite excited when I saw a package of Milk Oolong appear in a goodie box I recently received. Mandala Tea has always been a company I’ve wanted to try but when you have a tea stash that is over 800 teas, its hard to justify one more order.
I open the package and take a deep breath and inhale the amazing aromas coming from this dry leaf tea. Sweet and very dessert like, exactly what the description of the tea indicates. I prepped my water and sat and watched the tea leaves uncurl and dance around in my tea pot.
I pour myself a rather large mug of this gorgeous pale yellow brew and proceed to take my first sip. The first notes that hit you are a rich buttery one. It seriously envelops your entire mouth. All the while notes of an almost vegetal feel and coconut flavor swirl around, making a really nice creamy touch. I can pick up an additional sweetness but I’m not sure if its more sugary or toffee-like the description depicts. There are other flavors that peek out here and there but I can’t really define them. Such a wonderful tea. Complex yet simple all in the same if that makes sense.
All I know is this is one great tea that is perfect for any time of the day! Sweet, rich, buttery, with a slight vegetal touch. . .really good. I plan on spending the rest of the day with this tea and I can’t wait to see what the second infusion brings.
For my first experience with Mandala Tea. I think I have a winner on my hands!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: ChaTale
This debonair drop has all the smooth buttery goodness of an oolong base with a slick creamy aftertaste.
Support Cha Tea’s Kickstarter campaign here.
I have to start off this review with a comment about the logo and packaging for these teas. They are fantastic! The logo is clean and they use colors that draw you in and are so very attractive. It is the first thing I noticed about their teas.
ChaTale currently has an active kickstarter campaign running thru December 13. They originate out of the UK and seem to know what they are doing when it comes to tea. ChaTale will be offering a monthly tea subscription box hoping to steer consumers away from the tea bag and more into loose leaf tea. That alone makes me happy!
I couldn’t wait to dive into the box and see what fun teas await me. The first one that caught my eye was the Milk Oolong. I mean the description alone makes you drool!
Brewed this up like I do my oolongs with water at about 195 deg or so for around 4 minutes. The whole time the tea was steeping, gorgeous vanilla notes were wafting thru the air. The fragrance almost reminds me of homemade sugar cookies. . . . and who doesn’t love that smell?
Took my first sip and I am greeted with this amazingly smooth creamy flavor with just a hint of sweetness. This tea is charming and cozy giving you that feeling that you just want to snuggle up with a good movie or a good book. So very good and addicting! I’m loving the smooth flavor that delivers from beginning to end of each sip. You couldn’t ask for a better oolong on a cold rainy day like it is here today. Rich, creamy, and smooth with a sweetness that really just reminds you of home baked cookies. Yum! Delicious!
I think I need to go back this one on Kickstarter!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Udyan Tea
Rohini has been planted with special green tea clones which have very less *tannin content in them. The teas made from these bushes taste smooth and sweet, with pronounced vegetable flavour. They aren’t bitter unlike their counterparts from the district. Rohini Emerald Green Tea is made from single leaf and a bud.
Learn more about this tea here.
Rohini Emerald Green is a First Flush Darjeeling tea, a variety I’m particularly fond of. I’m intrigued by this one, though (more so than usual!) because the leaf is different from any I’ve seen before. It’s a fairly uniform mid-green in colour, with one or two lighter leaves and some yellow mottling. What’s surprising is that the leaves are large and curly, partially rolled but not tightly. I’ve never seen a first flush Darjeeling that looks quite like this one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-green, the scent reminiscent of a green tea. After an initial hit of orchid-like floral, there’s a distinctive vegetal scent. The leaves, once unfurled, remind me a little of oak tree leaves.
To taste, this tea is also unlike any Darjeeling I’ve tried before. In some ways, it’s far more like a green tea or an oolong than anything else. The initial flavour is lightly floral, in the sweet, heady way of orchids. It’s not an intensely perfumey floral, but rather like crushing the petals of an orchid or lily flower in your hand and then translating the scent into a taste. It’s difficult to describe, because it’s like the wrong sense is being used, but that’s as close as I can get to identifying the kind of sensation the floral produces. There’s a mild “green” flavour lurking underneath the floral, but it’s more chlorophyll than vegetal – not a flavour I’ve come across very often, but it works well here, continuing the floral theme. The texture reminds me a lot of an unflavoured milk oolong, in that it’s buttery and mildly creamy. It’s not thick tasting, exactly, but it has a sort of dairy cream feel to it that’s pleasant and unusual – almost a little “flat” tasting, but with a richness at the same time. The aftertaste is a little mineral, again reminding me of a green oolong. It’s a little like wet rock; a tiny bit metallic, but also fresh and clean.
This one was an experience for me, and I really savoured every sip. I’ve not come across a Darjeeling like this before, either in terms of taste or appearance, so it really made me think about, and question, my expectations. I enjoyed the flavour, even though floral teas aren’t usually my thing. Clearly I can still surprise myself on occasion! I’d happily recommend this one to most people, whether they’re fans of Darjeeling, green, oolong or floral teas. This tea certainly offers a unique experience, and its placed Udyan Tea more firmly on my personal radar.
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teavivre
Different from our Unflavored Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea, this Flavored Jin Xuan Oolong Tea is produced by adding edible flavoring to accentuate the milk flavor. So the milk aroma of this Flavored Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong is stronger. It is better for people who like strong milk fragrance.
This Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea we selected is imported directly from Taiwan to Fujian, China. This tea meets the most strictly European low pesticide residues standard for agricultural products.
View Quality Safety Analyzing Report
The flavor used for this Flavored Jin Xuan Milk Tea is from Mane (Shanghai), the branch company of the famous Flavours and Fragrances company “Mane”, which is founded in 1871 in the Grasse area, France.
Learn more about this tea here.
Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea Flavored from Teavivre is creamy, soothing, and delicious, just what I want in a milk oolong! I really quite enjoy this tea for its creamy goodness. While I love Teavivre’s unflavored version this version provides a bit more sweetness, almost a caramel note.
I typically enjoy a darker roasted oolong as a rule however now and then I prefer something on the green side of oolongs. This is a nice departure with more vegetal notes, and buttery goodness!
Some have said this reminds them of a cream cheese frosting more than milk and I tend to agree with that assessment. There is something so intriguing about this tea flavor that it is really difficult to describe and has to be experience for yourself. Now with that said, its not too sweet, its not sappy or cloying, so don’t be afraid to give it a go if you are not one who appreciates sweeter teas. Its not even the kind of sweetness one would get from tea with honey or maple notes. The sour cream frosting flavor really isn’t all that sweet, but there is some sort of bite to the milkiness, or just a hint at a sour note that keeps me trying to dissect it. You see the more I attempt to describe this tea the worse I feel I make it sound. Its not sour like sour milk where one’s mind may naturally go to considering it is a milk flavored tea right? But its not like that either. There is nothing off putting about this tea whatsoever. Its very soothing, very mellow, very relaxing, sedating almost.
For me it brings back childhood memories of my great great grandmother’s milk toast she used to feed me when I was little especially when I had tummy aches. I still love milk toast and I love this tea.