Monday, July 2, 2012
Teavivre, Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea (flavored)
I have been anxious to try this one for some time. Today it finally made its way to the front of the line. The moment I opened the bag I started thinking Honey Nut Cheerios. To me that is exactly what the dry leaf smells like. The tiny little nuggets are green and tan, suggesting leaves and buds. I looked on the label to verify it and my guess is correct. I found this to be a hard tea to judge how much leaf to use for a mug. Leaf like Dragonwell is so large that you have to eyeball it in your pot. Oolong is just the opposite. It is wrapped so tightly that you have to use less than seems correct because it highly expands when steeped. I used what I think is about 3 grams (roughly a level spoonful). Using 12oz of boiling water, this steeped for 2 1/2 minutes in my press.
The liquor is light green with excellent clarity. The leaf was hanging from the surface. The cup smells of dusty hay. The leaf smells of steamed veggies. The nuggets have expanded into a large amount of leaf and stems. Some research indicates this is normal for Taiwan oolongs.
The first sip without additives gives the impression of warm buttery milk and cereal. Sweet and grainy with a note of vanilla. It is also just the slightest bit salty. I am also picking up a light smoke and notes of hay. There is a tiny amount of bitterness. As with the other Taiwan oolongs I have tried lately, I am getting a neat cooling sensation on my breath. I am really enjoying this. I could enjoy this cup without additives. That rarely happens.
Out of curiosity lets see what this does with some sweetener added. I added one packet of Splenda. Interesting. This knocks the edge off the bitterness (which was not bad in the first place), and diminishes the saltiness. The milk, smoke, and grain are all accentuated.
Second cup steeped at two minutes, is nearly identical to the first, except I am not noticing the vanilla notes and this is more milk than buttery. Still very good flavor.
As I am about to pour the water for the third cup, I notice the extraordinary amount of leaf in the press. Note to self, you can get by with less than you think. This tea would never work in a tea ball. I steeped for 2 minutes. The leaf is hanging throughout the liquor. It is like looking through an underwater jungle. There is so much of it I did not push the plunger all the way down as I did not want to squeeze the leaf (that releases tannins that cause bitterness).
This is still a really good cup. I do not catch any smoke in this now, instead I am getting the floral notes associated with Alishan oolongs. I can also taste vanilla again in the aftertaste. So good.
Fourth cup was steeped at 4 minutes. The floral notes disappear while it is hot and are replaced with warm earthy tones. They return as the cup cools. It is still milky as well. I believe this will steep more but I will have to stop for the day.
Final words – Simply put, I love this tea.