My lovely conspira-tea-ist friend Angela went to Taiwan for work and brought me back a boxed set of three fine Oolong Teas.
There is Chinese food en route with my loving husband for dinner tonight, and since I’ve been under the weather, I decided to treat myself by opening the box, cracking the tin, and slicing the inner, sealed gold foil.
Oolong teas are only partially fermented, meaning that they have a stronger, richer flavor than green teas, but are not as savory as black teas.
I brewed the green tin –High Mountain Oolong Tea Formosa– described as, “the finest semi-fermented tea by connoisseurs worldwide.” My tea book concurs that Formosa tea from Taiwan is considered the best.
I used my husband’s tea pot so that I could easily halt the steeping and see the leaves. According to what I’ve read, in a true, high-quality tea, the leaves will unfurl and be visible as the nearly whole, sometimes broken, leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. Lesser quality teas are smaller, broken shreds (like in bagged teas).
Tea-soup was a new one on me, whereas I’ve read that the brewed tea beverage is called a liquor (maybe because it is often a fermented beverage?), hence the title of my post, as this is a liquor that I like. Really, REALLY, like.
The experience of drinking the first brew of the leaves was very cleansing. I drank it unsweetened and it was mild, but the flavor was pervasive; like cucumber water. I found it very refreshing, but only the aftertaste could be described as “sweet.” More like a flavor after-image reaction to the tangy beverage, apparent only once I had swallowed the liquid itself.
The second steeping (which I probably shouldn’t even have bothered to do with such a nice tea, and which definitely got over-steeped) had an entirely different mouth-feel. It was heavily tannin-full, leaving my tongue feeling dry. My taste buds felt like they had perhaps shyfully receded from the liquid like an over-tired anemone. I even felt the effect into my sinuses and my eye cavities. I’m not kidding! It felt like my whole face was tightening up and my pores were closing. It was not unpleasant, but pretty bizarre. Not nearly as nice, until I sweetened it and added milk to make a tea latte. (ALSO SO YUM!)
As expected, the leaves, “planted on the mountains with higher elevations where fog and clouds surround the hills year round,” were nearly whole after brewing.
Want some? The bag is open and it won’t last forever, so please come by next time you’re in Santa Barbara and share this experience with me. I can’t open the next bag and give it a try until this one is used up, so come and have some of the very finest tea in the world with me!