Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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02 June 2005

Gift of Oolong

One of my students is from Taiwan, and yesterday (our last class meeting) she brought me a wonderful gift of oolong tea.

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As you can see from the box, the text is Chinese (which I can’t read). The inside packaging, however, does have a few words in English, so I know this is a Formosa Oolong. It didn’t take long before I was heating up water and pouring it over the leaves in my glass gaiwan.

click photo to view larger image

Tasting notes:

Water: filtered in brita pitcher, temp = around 170F
Brewed and sipped: in gaiwan cup, first steeping about 2 minutes (I preferred a longer brewing time than for many oolongs, since it takes a bit for those leaves to go through the agony of unfurling and producing the liquor)

The aroma that rises from the freshly rinsed leaves has a very toasty or roasted characteristic. This is the scent that I often equate with toasted coconut. I’ve run into it before in an aged oolong that I like quite a bit. This Formosa oolong, however, produces a much lighter brew, with just a hint of green. It is not as dark as I expected from the fragrance of the leaves.

The distinctive toastiness holds up through the second cup, but there are only traces of it in the third and fourth brewing. The flavor instead drifts to a fresher, more floral sensation. I found myself brewing a fifth cup, so it is a long-lasting leaf.

This tea is very “comfortable” and balanced. It is not aggressive or uniquely flavored; instead, it has a broad range or crossover (between roasted and floral tones) that draws me in. I think this is a tea to be enjoyed routinely, as a good foundation against which to understand others.


Blogger Stephane said...

With dong ding oolong, try water that just boiled and a quick water flow in the gaiwan so as to make to leaves swirl. Then shorten your first steep to 40 sec to 1 minute.

The higher temp and quick flow help make the oolong open up faster.

Try it and see if the taste is improved or not!

5:14 AM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

Stephane, I want to thank you for this suggestion. I gave it a try, and the method definitely produces a very different result. All of the flavors come through more quickly, and it's certainly a robust cup. I like it better, I think, but sometimes I want that lingering low-temperature brew as well.

I have begun to practice pouring with quick water flows in the gaiwan, so as to get that swirl going. I love how that actually makes a difference to the leaves -- wonderful! :)

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did burn myself for a year before I can have a proper cup and a presentable method.... If you have a oolong seasoned yixing tea pot, it will suprise you with more flavor from this dong ding.


3:09 PM  

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