Ah, oolongs – my favorite type of tea. There’s no bad time of year for a good ti kwan yin.
Summer? Cold brew. Winter? Western-style brew in a giant mug. Any time? Gong fu.
The dry leaf of this particular ti kwan yin is forest green with brown stems. It is semiball-rolled. I could not find brewing guidelines on the company’s website so I improvised from experience. I got five decent steeps out of this leaf, all delivering a pale gold brew. I prepared the first steep at 205f for 40 seconds. The wet leaf looks and smells good. The leaves have substantially unfurled. They are medium sized, torn at the edges and sometimes in the middle, and attached to the stems. They give off a scent of light roast and honey. The flavor of this first steep is initially a light honey sweetness, followed by a soft nutty note.
Subsequent steeps bring out some bitterness in the leaf. At 205f for 60 seconds, the second steep may have been too long, too hot, or both. I have trouble identifying the flavor but the closest I can describe it is a stone fruit such as apricot. For the third steep, I keep it at 205f for 60 seconds rather than increasing the steep time. The flavor is a kale-like bitterness with a hint of sweetness.
As it cools, the bitterness fades (though never fully disappears) and a honeydew note comes to the fore. The fourth steep – 200f, 60 seconds – is less bitter and generally lighter, but overall similar to steep three with a slightly bitter honeydew flavor. The fifth steep – 200f, 2 minutes – isn’t bitter but is losing flavor. It still has a light and sweet melon note but this is the last steep.
For thoroughness, I decided to also make this Western-style. I used plenty of leaf and tried a lower temperature to see if that would reduce the bitterness. I brewed it at 185f for 4 minutes. That eliminated the bitterness but it also resulted in a less flavorful brew. There was a nutty note and a honeydew note, but they were weak and watery compared to the flavor of the gong fu preparation and other oolongs I’ve prepared Western-style. I would stick to preparing this tea gong fu style.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Tea N Joy
This wonderful oolong tea comes from the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian Province. Gongfu style preparation is recommended for this high grade Ti Kwan Yin. The tea’s name came from a legend that told of monkeys being used by monks to retrieve this tea from the high mountains. In general, monkey picked tea are from wild tea plants that grow in inaccessible places, such as on high cliff faces. When brewed, this golden liquor gives a floral flavor with a hint of chestnut and a delightful aftertaste.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Red Leaf Tea
Deep in the forests of Southern China, tea leaves are still harvested by hand from wild tea trees. These are considered to be gourmet, premium teas among the Chinese, and there is always a light body, a delicate clarity, and an earthy nature to the brews of these leaves that is never found elsewhere. At one time, tradition says, the monks of a certain temple, desirous of harvesting more of these wild tree leaves at a quicker pace, trained dozens of monkeys to climb to the tops of the tea trees and pick the youngest leaves and pekoe buds up there! These monkey-picked leaves were then converted into oolong tea, the monk’s favored beverage. Today, Chinese tea drinkers call the very best oolong teas made from wild tree leaves, “Monkey-Picked,” even though more reliable methods of harvesting are now employed. Premium “Monkey-Picked” Oolong is rare, labor-intensive, and extremely delicate in flavor. It can be brewed for multiple infusions, with many declaring that the second steeping is the best! “Monkey-Picked” Ooloong has an extremely complex bouquet, with an earthiness in the brew usually found only in aged Pu Erh tea! Known to the Chinese as Ti Kuan Yin tea, or Goddess Tea, this ultimate oolong is a rare treasure for our Red Leaf customers! Try some today!
Learn more about this tea here.
I am a huge fan of oolong tea. Money Picked Oolong from Red Leaf Tea is a great one! The price is more than fair for this quality tea. At 7.99 per ounce it is robust with fruity juicy flavors and deep earthiness. The aroma is intoxicating and inviting. You can taste and smell ripely sweetened berries, and a caramelized sugar flavor that is just outstanding!
There is a slight rock mineral flavor that is not drying at all, rather quenching which I find interesting because mineral flavors are generally drying on my palate. This is a welcome and unique experience .
The flavors linger on the palate for quite a long time, beckoning me to take another sip, yet as I am generally one to drink my teas rather quickly, there is something that makes me just want to sit back and allow the flavors to meld over my palate, and just enjoy the after taste.
The color of the cup is delightful, deep golden orange almost verging on an amber color. Very cheerful to look at, and even more joyful to savor.
Red Leaf Tea is my “go to” place for straight and flavored matcha, but don’t overlook their abundant selection of straight and flavored teas!
I tend to be a big fan of Dong Ding Oolong, but this Monkey Picked Oolong from Red Leaf Tea my just be winning my top spot for oolong love!