Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tea Ave, Ginger Lily Oolong

Tea Ave description:
Our Ginger Lily Oolong is prepared using the ancient method, in which the tea absorbs the flower fragrance during the baking progress, producing a scented tea that’s aromatic and flavorful without using any additives or chemicals. It’s good for you and delicious. Ginger Lily Oolong has a mild, soothing aroma.

Ginger Lily Oolong is sweet and smooth with a light body. Ginger Lily blossoms from Taiwan are blended with high mountain oolong tea (Alishan Jin Xuan) to yield a tea that has an earthy oolong taste with a light, sweet ginger finish with pleasing honey notes. A lovely, approachable, refreshing tea. Call it summer in a cup.

Sample provided by Tea Ave

My Review:
Today we are taking a short break from our white tea extravaganza to review an oolong.  I want to start by apologizing to Tea Ave for taking so long to get back to their samples. They have not complained, but it has been a month since my first review of Tea Ave. They are a new company operating out of Canada. The sample package they mailed out to several of us for review is more than generous.

The 9 gram sample came packaged in a resealable C-3PO gold colored foil bag with a clear back. The label on this things packs a ton of options for brewing parameters.

Opening the sample I smell biscuits, oats, and a little roasting. This is Alishan. Why do I smell biscuits and oats? Interesting. The roasting level is listed as a 1 on a scale from 0-10. Light but noticeable.

The leaf is rolled into typical green oolong nuggets with a tan stem exposed. I would say the leaf color in reality is darker than the picture appears on my computer screen. It is a more uniform deep green, in natural light, to my eyes.

I used half the sample (about 4.5 grams) in my clear glass teapot. Tea Ave calls for 8 grams of leaf with 130 ml of water (about 4 ounces). I know how I like my oolongs, and for me that is way too much leaf. I would normally use about 3 grams but decided to go heavier as a compromise.

I used about 150 ml of 100 C water (5 ounces and 212 F). The steep was 30 seconds per the gaiwan brewing method listed on the label.

The leaf gently moved about the water as it slowly unfurled. The leaf nearly filled the water. It was graceful to watch. I highly recommend a clear brewing vessel so you don't miss the show.

Pouring the clear honey colored liquor created two distinct aromas. The first is the wet leaf. It has a very noticeable roasted scent. I am not a fan of highly roasted tea so this stands out to me. It is lightly roasted but I notice anyway. The second aroma is from the liquor itself. Yes, this is Alishan. What a lovely floral aroma. Sweet and flowery. I can't wait for this to cool.

While the cup is cooling I poured the wet leaf out on a plate. It is a lot of huge leaf and it isn't even completely relaxed. For me, I made the right call in reducing the leaf.

Finally I get to taste. Oh, this is lovely. It is more subtle than I expected. Up front there is a wave of floral typical of better quality Taiwan high mountain oolong. Yet, it is more because it is delicately enhanced by the ginger lily fragrance that was absorbed during processing. To me it is different than what I normally associate with ginger. It isn't spicy or hot. It is sweet.

The sip continues as this becomes quite milky in taste and feel. It is followed by just a touch of the roasting note. It gives it a nutty flavor. It really works here.

The aftertaste swirls and transitions through all the wonderful flavors found in the sip. I love Tea Ave's description of this as, "summer in a cup." It's just what I'm looking for today. This will steep 3-4 times (at least) and I intend to find out.

You can find Tea Ave, Ginger Lily Oolong here.

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