Fong Mong Tea Shop is a Taiwan based distributor that sells on Ebay with a 100% rating! Their offerings are often a bit higher priced than what is normally reviewed on the Everyday Tea Blog. This one is surprisingly affordable at $28.99 for 300g. That is less than $10 for 100g.
This sample was generously provided by Fong Mong Tea Shop. As noted in other reviews of this company, I am impressed with the packaging. The pouch is heavy duty, the sample is vacuum packed, and inside is an oxygen absorber to help maintain freshness. There is 6 grams of tea inside. It all fit in one spoon. I was tempted to use all of it but just in case I mess up something I decided to save half for a later steep. Turns out, 3g is a lot of tea. The leaf is rolled into very tight tiny dark green balls that really expand. The dry leaf did not have much aroma to me.
I brought my water up to temperature and poured over the leaf. Immediately an amazing floral scent began to fill the room. Fong Mong recommends a six minute steep. I could not bring myself to steep it that long and went only three. The liquor is extremely clear and a pale yellow.
I should state up front that I added sweetener at this point. I usually wait until I have at least tasted the tea straight. Today, I knew I was going to add it eventually, so I just got it over with.
The first sip is electric, with a lot going on all at once. When I say electric I mean it literally. There was a numbness and a feeling of shock at the very beginning that I have never experienced before and it was not in later sips. The sip was very floral and sweet. At the same time it struck me as salty. Again this was only an initial reaction. The press and cup were both cleaned and well rinsed just prior to the tasting so it was not something left over from a previous brew. This has the lingering aftertaste typical of green oolongs. One reviewer on Steepster described this as a latex glove taste. I can make that connection but it is far more pleasant and green than it sounds. To me it is more like the taste of the white part of a watermelon rind.
As the cup cools I am getting a better sense of the flavors. It remains intensely floral at the front of the sip. Mid sip there is an underlying earthy quality. The floral notes pick back up towards the end and this dissolves into the lingering aftertaste. I am not sure this qualifies as milky but it does flow smoothly across the tongue. Another thing I am noticing is a dusty sensation on the throat and a tingling in the checks. I would normally associate this with astringency but it does taste astringent.
As the cup reaches near room temperature I get a mineral taste. I hear that description used often but this is the first time I have felt compelled to use the term myself. Interesting.
With the second cup the leaf is still not completely unfurled, yet it hangs in the press making it look full of leaf. It looses the earthy note and the dusty feel on this cup, and settles in at smooth and lingering. By the third cup, the leaf has completely unfurled. It makes for a lot of leaf. I stopped with the fourth steep (making 48oz). It still has a lot of sweet flavor. At $30/300g, using 3g to steep one mug, it works out to $0.30/mug. If you carry it out to the max @4steeps/session, that is $007.5/mug. Fun with math!
I am glad I had the time to spend with this one. It is quite complex. It is also quite tasty. This is a very good tea.