Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oolong Peach from Dragonwater Tea Co.

Scent in package: Light, sort of “faux peach” flavoring scent
Brewed in: tea for one ceramic pot at work
Steeping (212 deg): 3 min., 5 min., 5 min., 6 min.
Cup: tea for one ceramic mug

I’m starting to appreciate the care one has to take in order to brew a good oolong. They are far more delicate than I first imagined, even the darker oolongs. I really haven’t enjoyed oolongs until just recently, due to my sloppy brewing practices, but I’ve found that with careful attention to time and proper temperatures, oolongs are very enjoyable for an “all afternoon” tea (due to the number of infusions they are good for, and that mellow, thicker body).

This particular oolong turned me off the first time I tried it – I think I steeped it for too long. So yesterday afternoon at work, I decided to try it again, this time with more thought and attention to the brewing process. I carefully timed it for each infusion, and while I know that my infusions were longer than normal “gong fu” brewing, the tea came out so much better that I fit four infusions in before it was time to go home. I’m still not completely sold on this particular tea, as the peach flavor isn’t very natural at all, and actually kind of detracts from the naturally sweet honeyed flavor of the tea itself.

I need to set up a camera to take pictures of the tea leaves – truly, these leaves are stunning when brewed up. Some are brilliant green, some earthy brown, and bits of curled peach are curled up throughout. Lovely to look at, and the scent of the brewed leaves is actually more appealing than the scent when dry.

The first infusion is full of that faux peach taste, mingled with the more natural honey aftertaste. The tea is thick and full in the mouth, and very smooth, without the least hint of astringency. Very warming, like a glaze. The second and third infusions are better for taste – the “faux” taste isn’t so strong, so the peach compliments the tea rather solidly. The fourth infusion was sadly lacking – perhaps shorter infusions would yield more cups, but I wasn’t really interested in continuing after the flatter taste of the fourth cup. It was good, drinkable, but not “all that”. I think it would be a wonderful tea in the absence of the peach flavoring, honestly.

So I’ll enjoy the rest of my “sample package”, but I don’t think I’ll be reordering this tea. The peach flavoring just isn’t natural enough to really compliment the tea.

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