Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Formosa Oolong by Dragonwater Tea Co.

Scent in package: Unremarkable, really…just your average “tea” scent.
Brewed in: new Yixing pot (blue plum)
Steeped: 30 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min.
Cup: small matching blue Yixing teacups, clear glass mug

I wanted to at least try to do justice to this particular tea, since I’m notorious for “overcooking” oolongs, and steeping them too long/too hot. So I really tried to follow proper protocols for brewing and drinking this particular tea, and I was well rewarded for my efforts, except for one minor complaint of the Yixing cups not letting the tea cool quickly enough.

I don’t have an electric kettle at home, just my stainless steel stovetop kettle, and my triniTEA, which won’t work at all for the quasi-gong fu brewing I wanted to try (besides the brew basket is plastic – see my earlier rant about teaware). So I have to stand in the kitchen by the stove the whole time, brewing multiple infusions at the counter. This makes me rushed, as I get tired of standing there, waiting for the tea to cool before tasting it, and I learned that with Yixing cups, the tea stays rather warm for a long time, thus requiring either long periods of time standing in my kitchen, or taking the cup with me somewhere else, and returning to the kitchen multiple times for new infusions. Needless to say, I’m lazy, and after the first couple of infusions (and a rather burnt tongue to interfere with proper tasting), I ended up using the glass mug for the last two, and combining them together after tasting each so I could take my mug out to the living room and relax with the tea as it cooled more quickly in glass. Yes, I am the quintessential American, it seems, too lazy to spend an afternoon brewing tea in the kitchen. I need a tea tray, and an electric kettle at the very least, I think, to be able to sit in the dining room for brewing multiple infusions. A serving pitcher would be nice too, since the teapot is large enough for a couple servings, and I can’t just let the “extra” tea steep while I’m waiting for the cup I’ve poured to cool.

But I can assure you, with just the few infusions I made of this tea, paying close attention to heat & time, and using the lovely new Yixing teapot, that this tea is worth the effort (or it was for me). It is thick in the mouth, with a sublime honey taste and texture. It’s bold, smooth, and not bitter in the least. Even the color is honey-like, and each progressive infusion was sweeter and lighter than the last. After it was done, I found myself wanting more, and had I not had another appointment, I would have gladly sacrificed more time in the kitchen by the stove for a few more infusions.

In any case, it’s a reasonably priced tea at around $20 per pound, and truly a lovely way to spend an afternoon, even if your gong fu brewing style is “hit and miss” like mine is. I’d highly recommend sampling it at least – samples are $1.25 for half an ounce. I'll be ordering a half pound bag next time I'm stocking up, without fail.

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