Sunday, May 6, 2012

Christiani-Tea, Orange Oolong

From their website: Christiani-Tea is Tea with a Higher Purpose. Your tea purchase goes to support faith based organizations that are making an impact around the globe. Christiani-Tea is using tea to change the world!

This one came from a recent tea swap. It is oolong, orange peel, and flavor. The dry leaf is very dark, nearly black, thick and twisted. There are tiny chunks of orange peel in the mix. Smells of orange flavoring. There were no instructions printed on the sample packaging. The website steeping instructions said to use boiling water and a 4 minute steep. I chose not to follow instructions on the first cup. Instead I went somewhere between what I use for green and a full boil. The wet leaf did not fully open on the first steep. The liquor is dark like a black tea and smells of flavoring and smoked/roasted tea (Wuyi?). There is a bit of an earthy scent.

The sip is an interesting clash of flavors. The oolong taste is dark, rich, and earthy. For $2.75/oz, the leaf is actually better than I expected. The flavoring is pretty much exactly what I expected. It is a bit overdone and a touch artificial. The orange reminds me of Stash’s approach at flavored teas. If you enjoy Stash then you might like this one. As the cup cools the orange taste comes out more and tastes like, well, orange.

Second steep I used the recommended boiling water and 4 minute steep. The taste in this cup is a little closer to natural, though not entirely. I am not really catching the heavy flavored scent now. I could just be immune. Actually, I can’t tell if the flavor is really off or if maybe orange just doesn’t mix well with a highly oxidized roasted oolong like this one. I do think if I had some lemon grass or verbena to round this out it would be much improved. I have lemon balm growing in our herb garden but it will be awhile before I can cut some of it. I will revisit this one when the herb is ready to harvest.

With every steep the brew gets a little lighter in color. The third steep is a beautiful reddish bronze and you can see the bottom of the cup. With this cup, the roastiness is pretty much gone and the earthiness that was present from the beginning begins to resemble a mild sheng puerh – sticky lip feel and all. Combined with the light remnants of the orange, this produced the best cup so far. In fact it was an outstanding cup.

I doubt I would reorder this particular tea BUT based the quality of the leaf and the great price, I would not hesitate to try some of their other blends.

This is my second attempt at this one. I started with a healthy spoon of leaf, and added 12oz of boiling water for a one minute steep in my press. The sip is much improved over the last time. Using boiling water is necessary to open the leaf and I find the short steep time is crucial to keep both the heavy roastiness of the oolong and the orange flavor from becoming overwhelming. Especially as it cools, this is easily drinkable. There is a bit of a cool blast on the throat like mint. I think orange with a greener oolong would be much more relaxing but ignoring the website recommended steeping instructions and going with my own has made this a pleasant drink.

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