Friday, October 30, 2015

Oollo Tea, Oriental Beauty

Oollo Tea Description:
Renowned for its beautiful five colour dancing leaves. This traditional beauty exudes apricot and peach scents followed by indulging orchid, muscat grape, and apple flavours.

Varietal: Qingxin Oolong/Jinxuan Oolong
Grower Name: Zhen Family
Location: Pinglin, New Taipei, Taiwan
Elevation: 500m
Harvest: 2014 Spring

Sample provided by Oollo Tea

My Review:
Today I was delighted to read up on this tea and learn its secret is Vampires! More on that in a moment. First, something else I learned reading Oollo's website; Oriental beauty is the name British royalty assigned to this tea for it's "beautiful colours and shapes. It seemed like a lady dancing in the tea pot".

What gives this tea its unique characteristics is the green leaf hopper that bites the leaf and feast on the tea leaf juices like vegetarian vampires. Seems totally appropriate on the day before Halloween.

I have a 5g sample in a sealed aluminum bag. The label has brief brewing instructions. There are expanded options on the website.

Opening the bag at first gives up very little in the way of aroma. Then I catch floral notes that seem to grow as I linger. Oollo mentions orchids. To me it was more reminiscent of peony.

The leaf is gorgeous. The five colors associated with higher quality leaf can be seen - brown, red (more of a cinnamon), green, white, and looking closely, touches of yellow. The yellow/white is the result of the vampire biting leaf hopper.

I decided to use the entire sample for a western steep. I was originally going to split it for a gung fu session - until I read about the dance of the leaf that caught the British royal's attention.

Never wanting to miss a good dance, I heated water to 195F and grabbed my clear glass Bodum press. The steep was a short 1 1/2 minutes. So I guess I am back to doing a hybrid method from years passed, where I use western water amounts and eastern time and temperatures. Seems to work for me.

As for the dance, most of the leaf hung vertically from the surface. A few leaf dove to the bottom. What made this interesting was not the ballet I was expecting, rather the slow graceful swelling of the leaf as it began to fill the pot. There were several leaves that gyrated and twitched. I don't know, maybe they were Miley Cyrus wanna bes. Forget it, scratch that image. I know. Too late.

The steeped leaf is mostly complete leaves and buds joined to stems. From this side of the steep, I see no evidence of the work of the green leaf hopper. The scent is honey and fruit.

The liquor is clear, bright, and more the color of syrup than my camera captured. It is kind of a honey/caramel.

Tasting, I am asking, are you sure this is oolong? I know it is on heavily oxidized end of the scale but this seems like a Nepal black tea. It lacks the heavy roasting that many dark oolongs possess and for that I am glad - not personally a fan of heavy roasting.

So what I am tasting is raisin drifting into muscat grapes. It also has a nutty, deep woods presence to it. Late in the sip I sense it opening up with floral notes. Again, to me, it is peony. Very good. I am still making a Nepal/Darjeeling comparison in the flavor.

This should go several more steeps. I may find out later today. Right now an earache and head cold are making me feel less than up to the task. It has to be couch time somewhere, right? Definitely aspirin time.

You can find Oollo Tea American Beauty here.

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