What Oolong Are You Drinking

Semi-oxidized tea
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Lucifigus
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Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:00 pm

I am new at this and have been experimenting with reasonable tea and brewing Gong Fu style for about six weeks. I have ordered many sample packs and some have arrived and I eagerly await others. I have always liked oolong teas, and it is fun exploring other varieties; however, this is quite a new adventure for me. I confess to trying about four Shou Pureh teas, and none of them do anything for me, in fact, some of them I wouldn’t drink again. I have had a handful of Sheng, and some I quite like. I have also had some white teas and a green tea.

However, I keep coming back to Oolong teas. I am somewhat shocked at the diversity and variation among the many oolong varieties. I have had a couple very fine (to my untrained palate) high mountain oolongs, and the only Dancong sample I have had (so far) impressed me a lot. I have had a few darker oolongs that are very enjoyable with woodsy flavours and great complexity. I am enjoying one now for the first time.
This is an aged Tieguanyin from c. 1986 that I got from Red Blossom in San Francisco. I am just amazed at the deep flavours and smooth complexity in this tea. I have enjoyed what I thought were pretty good bottles of Port, and they were no more enjoyable than this tea.

I don’t know if this foretells the style of teas I will come to settle on, and I know my sample size is fairly small; nevertheless, the percentage of oolongs that have impressed me is much higher than other tea varieties. I think I could be happy if I only drank oolong tea, but I will indeed try and enjoy other varieties.

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Lucifigus
Last edited by Victoria on Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Mod edit: merged new member topic
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Victoria
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Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:44 pm

Lucifigus wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:00 pm
....However, I keep coming back to Oolong teas. I am somewhat shocked at the diversity and variation among the many oolong varieties. I have had a couple very fine (to my untrained palate) high mountain oolongs, and the only Dancong sample I have had (so far) impressed me a lot. I have had a few darker oolongs that are very enjoyable with woodsy flavours and great complexity. I am enjoying one now for the first time.
This is an aged Tieguanyin from c. 1986 that I got from Red Blossom in San Francisco. I am just amazed at the deep flavours and smooth complexity in this tea. I have enjoyed what I thought were pretty good bottles of Port, and they were no more enjoyable than this tea.

I don’t know if this foretells the style of teas I will come to settle on, and I know my sample size is fairly small; nevertheless, the percentage of oolongs that have impressed me is much higher than other tea varieties. I think I could be happy if I only drank oolong tea, but I will indeed try and enjoy other varieties.
Nice to hear you found a tea that resonates with you @Lucifigus. Not sure where you are located in the world but our Vendor Discussion & Recommendation thread and Oolong Vendor thread might be helpful to you in exploring more oolong. Have you mostly tried Chinese oolong or Taiwanese so far? For Taiwan oolong here in USA; Tillerman Tea, Floating Leaves, Té Company, Ethan Kurland are good sources. For Yancha in USA -Old Ways Tea is a place to start, otherwise Wuxi Origin, Tong Xin She. For DanCong in USA -TeaHabitat is very good source. Those are just a few. I’m sure I left many out, apologies in advance ... 🍃
Ethan Kurland
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Fri Feb 19, 2021 6:05 pm

Lucifigus wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:00 pm

This is an aged Tieguanyin from c. 1986 that I got from Red Blossom in San Francisco. I am just amazed at the deep flavours and smooth complexity in this tea.
Welcome to the forum, luci....

The aged Tieguanyin smoothness is probably due to being aged and stored well. Deep "flavours" (spelling indicates you are not from the USA) probably shows the TGY was originally good leaves that were roasted properly (and I expect re-roasted). A long time ago I had two aged teas from Red Blossom that were wonderful. They helped me loosen the overly tight grip I had had on my purse limiting how much I would pay for tea.

Unless you have an excellent memory, I advise you to take notes.

You have already discovered that oolong has a wide range. Even if you limited yourself to Taiwan, you would have lots of choices. (I won't say much more about tea from Taiwan because that is what I sell mostly & that's not fair.) I would say that Japanese green tea is a challenge to prepare well & pu-erh is a challenge to buy well (affordable good ready-to-use pu is almost impossible to obtain--let's see if others disagree). So, I would advise to explore only in those areas if you enjoy the challenge & have $ to spare.
Chris
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Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:19 pm

Inspired by the CNNP thread, I'm drinking Butterfly brand Fujian bag oolong tea. I would be pleasantly surprised if I got this tea at a restaurant. It's like a very, very generic yancha, one-dimensional but not exactly unpleasant. Also reminds me of mugicha.

Earlier today, I was drinking spring 2020 roasted Dong Ding from Tillerman, the one made by Chen Kuan Lin. I didn't take tasting notes but this is wonderful tea imo. Has that rich Dong Ding fruitiness yet is also quite restrained. The level of roast is ideal for my taste in Dong Ding oolong. Made in a little stoneware pot by Inge Nielsen, it is also very sweet and smooth.
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LeoFox
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Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:49 am

LeoFox wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:52 pm
A session with "xiao Hong pao" from OWT to season my hqsn.

Vendor description:
The roast is robust with some cocoa character. It has a mouthwatering intensity. The tea was processed April 27th 2020, and roast at the end of July.
I have to say, this is one of the worst yancha I've ever had - made me wish the pot was more rounding! :o

True to the vendor description, the tea has a strong cocoa character. In fact, the first two infusions were fantastic with chocolate.

However, that's all there is to this tea: chocolate and coffee flavors (basically the roast). First infusion was slightly plummy. Third and fourth infusions had a hint of dried fruit. Died after 4th infusion ( I was doing 8 grams in 110 mL). Left a lingering aftertaste of cigarette butts.

I'd say I'm getting what I am paying for at about $0.26/ gram. (Further proof that there is no cheap yancha)

To be fair, this is what I was looking for to educate my porous pot.
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After this one session, my pot has a weird stain in the lid rim and the whole pot seems slightly more gray and dirty despite multiple boiling water washes. I'm starting to wonder If some coloring was added to this tea. I dont care that this is a cheaper offering from OWT: if coloring is added, this says something about the quality culture of this california company.

I will continue through a few more packs.
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Victoria
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Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:49 pm

LeoFox wrote:
Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:49 am
After this one session, my pot has a weird stain in the lid rim and the whole pot seems slightly more gray and dirty despite multiple boiling water washes. I'm starting to wonder If some coloring was added to this tea. I dont care that this is a cheaper offering from OWT: if coloring is added, this says something about the quality culture of this california company.
No coloring added I’m 99.9% sure, OWT is a reputable vendor imo. Those are just tannins attaching themselves to your teapot. This happens to me with a Shimizu Ken Nosaka kyusu with Namamigaki (burnished polish) along the rim as well when I use it with high mountain oolong. I use either a baking soda rub or those magic sponges to clean it every once in a while.
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LeoFox
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Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:47 pm

LeoFox wrote:
Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:49 am
LeoFox wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:52 pm
A session with "xiao Hong pao" from OWT to season my hqsn.

Vendor description:
The roast is robust with some cocoa character. It has a mouthwatering intensity. The tea was processed April 27th 2020, and roast at the end of July.
I have to say, this is one of the worst yancha I've ever had - made me wish the pot was more rounding! :o

True to the vendor description, the tea has a strong cocoa character. In fact, the first two infusions were fantastic with chocolate.

However, that's all there is to this tea: chocolate and coffee flavors (basically the roast). First infusion was slightly plummy. Third and fourth infusions had a hint of dried fruit. Died after 4th infusion ( I was doing 8 grams in 110 mL). Left a lingering aftertaste of cigarette butts.

I'd say I'm getting what I am paying for at about $0.26/ gram. (Further proof that there is no cheap yancha)

To be fair, this is what I was looking for to educate my porous pot.
Image
Image
After this one session, my pot has a weird stain in the lid rim and the whole pot seems slightly more gray and dirty despite multiple boiling water washes. I'm starting to wonder If some coloring was added to this tea. I dont care that this is a cheaper offering from OWT: if coloring is added, this says something about the quality culture of this california company.

I will continue through a few more packs.
Image
Image
Another session with the owt dhp but in a gaiwan with same parameters and water. I cannot believe how nasty it is. All I could taste is burnt bread and some cigarette smoke haha. Amazing how the hqsn was able to suppress that and pull out chocolate sweetness! Putting the rest of the packs into storage for resting. Will next try a more expensive offering from owt
McScooter
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:29 pm

Another snowy day in the northeast calls for an afternoon session with some 2020 Qi Lan from Old Ways Tea. Typically brew 8g in a standard 100/110ml gaiwan, but since this a casual, impromptu session off the side of my work desk, I went with a 60ml gaiwan and leaf scaled down accordingly. Initial post-rinse steeps of 3 - 5 seconds, and to-taste thereafter. Water generally off the boil, somewhere between 195F and 205F.

Wet leaf pops with the namesake orchid fragrance. Very clear and discernible. The tea has a nearly imperceptible roast even from the start, with flavors of honeysuckle, butterscotch candy and creaminess (kind of like Werther's originals) dominating from the onset. Very present sweetness and next to no bitterness. A few steeps in, with water re-boiled and steep times lengthened, the flavors persist, though of course toned down a notch. As I'm waiting for my own Hong Ni (albeit modern) pot to come in, had the zini on standby just in case*, but no need as there's no need to round anything out with that kind of hammer. Overall a very enjoyable and warming session.

* i mention the zini only because my experiences with a cheaper OWT da hong pao and rou gui were maybe a little similar to yours, LeoFox. Each of those were ok, but had a relatively high roast and thin body, and fared much better in the zini. With the rou gui, I struggled to find hints of cinnamon or some of the sheep's milk type characteristics you can sometimes find, but again that was the cheapest option and I'm waiting on the hong ni before I go to town on the rest of my samples. I do find that the tannins stain quite a bit actually as well. The stain on my porcelain gong fu cup is very discernible after this brief session with the Qi Lan.
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LeoFox
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Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:00 pm

Brewed OWT's purple da hong pao ($0.38/g) at 6 grams / 80 mL in gaiwan.

This is a step up in price compared to OWT's $0.26/gram xiao hong pao that was like nasty ash brewed from the gaiwan.

Brewed like this:
Rinse
20s
35s
2min

I was pleasantly surprised by the first infusion, dominated by peach and fruit punch and framed by buttery toast. A sweet toffee like butteriness is apparent in the aftertaste (yes, maybe a bit like werther's originals mentioned by @McScooter)

However, the next infusion was bland- a pale reflection of that first infusion. And then the 2 min infusion was mostly toasted bread and light coffee...

Going back to sip the cooled rinse, I tasted more light coffee and toasted bread with a hint of fruit.

I stopped at the 2 min infusion because there is no more from this leaf.

Basically, I got 1 decently drinkable infusion. I might have been able to get two if instead of 35 seconds, I had infused for a bit longer.

Is this better than dong ding at a similar price point? No way.

Why was there only one good infusion? I have no idea...
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Bok
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Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:48 pm

@LeoFox in my view if you don’t go for at least 1$/g and upwards, it’s better to just skip Yancha altogether and opt for something with a better price/value - this is regardless of the vendor (but only concerns the Western market).

The things that make Yancha special and unique and make the disproportionate increase in price worth it, are unlikely to be found at lower price point. You’ll always get a better cup out of a Taiwanese roasted oolong at the same price as a Yancha. Always.
mbanu
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Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:57 pm

Recently I had some of the 2020 "Traditional Tie Guan Yin" from Seven Cups. I know that Tie Guan Yin has an ambivalent reputation now due to poor decisions related to its production in the past, but I thought it was quite nice. I am not so good at reviews, sadly (bad photographer) so I doubt I have anything to contribute from that end. :lol:
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LeoFox
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Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:54 pm

One more from OWT: a more expensive da hong pao at $0.53 per gram. This is the vendor description:
This tea is from my sister's godmother, who likes higher roast teas. The tea is roast "zu huo", a higher roast than most of the teas in our shop.
This is a step up in price compared to OWT's purple da hong pao ($0.38/g) and OWT's xiao hong pao ( $0.26/gram) that tasted like short lived peach perfume and nasty ash water respectively.

So rereading the vendor description (higher roast!!! Higher than the xiao hong pao?!? Oh no...) I expected something even more monstrously nasty. Well I am very happy to be wrong! This is a pretty good tea!

Brewed 6 grams in 80 mL gaiwan using same water as before:
Rinse
20s
50s
1min30s
2min30s
5min
15min
Steeped out for long time

The flavors are dominated by the roast, yes, but the roast is restrained and delicious. There is none of that nasty ash water. Instead there is a nice melange of chocolate and medium roast coffee as well as what I can only describe as the more toasty areas of a buttery pie and even some hints of caramelized onions. Do I taste the tea leaf itself? Not really. But this roast is really pretty good!

Interestingly, even though this tea is supposed to have super high level of roast, the gaiwan was not stained much, unlike with the previous teas.

I am glad that at this price, which I don't consider cheap, I am getting something decent (to me).
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Bok
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Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:08 pm

@LeoFox see the pattern? You get what you pay for. Never better than what you paid, sometimes a little worse.
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LeoFox
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Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:34 am

One final OWT tea: $0.22/g rougui described like this:
I have packed the 2016 Rou Gui into 100g bags. Below is the original description.

I pour the tea in the gaiwan and give it a slight shake. The smell is a bit tangy. The first infusion has nice fragrance, and smooth body. This tea infuses to a deep reddish orange color.

Having had about two years rest, this tea has a very smooth mouth feel and provides a nice value. I've selected the blue bags for this release since this tea is reminiscent of a previous 2015 rou gui that some may remember fondly.
This seems to be their entry level tea. I wasnt sure what to expect: can it be worse than the nasty ash water rendered by the more expensive xiao hong pao? Hard to imagine that would be possible ..

Brewed 6 grams in 80 mL gaiwan
Rinse
20s
30s
55s

It is worse...so much worse.

There isnt the obvious ash water nastiness. In fact, the immediate reaction is a smoothness and a slight spicy sweetness. But, going down the throat, the tannins (or at least I am hoping the root cause is tannins and not something more nefarious) - stab their way down with tiny vicious knives! And no, it's not the temperature. Same experience with the liquid cooled down! The rinse tasted strangely mild and spicy sweet, but also painful. Could have continued to steep but it was too much. .
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Fri Feb 26, 2021 12:10 pm

LeoFox wrote:
Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:34 am
..... But, going down the throat, the tannins (or at least I am hoping the root cause is tannins and not something more nefarious) - stab their way down with tiny vicious knives! .. .
Was this post sent from a hospital? :)
Get well soon.
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