What Oolong Are You Drinking

Semi-oxidized tea
Ethan Kurland
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Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:36 am

Victoria, L.A. seems to be a good place to live for someone serious about drinking good tea with people who discern.....

I bought excellent medium-roasted TGY once only before I knew that it was such a good opportunity. (Shop in Pinlin closed unfortunately.) Good quality dark-roasted TGY seems easier to obtain, but only soon after it is produced.

I am most interested in degrees of oxidation, not roasting and/or aging. I do not know but feel that slightly varied amounts of oxidation can make drinking the same leaves (of high quality) very interesting as well as delicious. My palate seems on top of its game in this area.

For me: The taste of the roast can very easily be too dominant or the only taste truly prevalent often.

The best aged teas become a blend of flavors that is excellent & so smooth, drinkable, & durable, but for me, not always so interesting as fresh teas that put competing flavors in my mouth. And, how a 20-year old tea is better than a seven-year old, is not so discernable for me.

Discussion here led me to open a packet of FuShoushan. I need to remember not to quickly eat or drink after drinking it, as the FSS's aftertaste is great to have lingering for 30 minutes or more.
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Victoria
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Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:37 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:36 am
Victoria, L.A. seems to be a good place to live for someone serious about drinking good tea with people who discern.....

I bought excellent medium-roasted TGY once only before I knew that it was such a good opportunity. (Shop in Pinlin closed unfortunately.) Good quality dark-roasted TGY seems easier to obtain, but only soon after it is produced.

I am most interested in degrees of oxidation, not roasting and/or aging. I do not know but feel that slightly varied amounts of oxidation can make drinking the same leaves (of high quality) very interesting as well as delicious. My palate seems on top of its game in this area.

For me: The taste of the roast can very easily be too dominant or the only taste truly prevalent often.

The best aged teas become a blend of flavors that is excellent & so smooth, drinkable, & durable, but for me, not always so interesting as fresh teas that put competing flavors in my mouth. And, how a 20-year old tea is better than a seven-year old, is not so discernable for me.

Discussion here led me to open a packet of FuShoushan. I need to remember not to quickly eat or drink after drinking it, as the FSS's aftertaste is great to have lingering for 30 minutes or more.
Ethan, your focus on oxidation levels is an interesting one, and I would say more difficult to discern than levels of roasting.
I am enjoying Origin Tea’s 2010 Traditional High Fire LiShan. It is difficult for me to perceive what level of oxidation was reached prior to roasting, possibly just partial oxidation as is normal for traditional LiShan. The liquor and wet leaf are super aromatic and complex, with sweet camphor musky maltiness. Roasted notes are fully transformed into malty sweetness and warmth. I suspect this LiShan went through several roasts over some period of time, add to that 9 years of aging and the results are stellar; rich, complex and transcendent.

Filled Mid 80's F1, Zini San-Zu 105ml shuiping with 8gr of leaf. Rich.

Origin 2010 Trad HighFire LiShan in Mid80's F1, Zini San-Zu 105ml ShuiPing.jpg
Origin 2010 Trad HighFire LiShan in Mid80's F1, Zini San-Zu 105ml ShuiPing.jpg (639.24 KiB) Viewed 1169 times
Ethan Kurland
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Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:09 am

Victoria,

I am jealous of your palate & excellent command of language (e.g. "sweet camphor maltiness).

I wish that more levels of oxidation were available & that information about them was given. I do have one person say to me specific percentages but know there is a lot of guessing as he probably does it just for me. I also wish there was a constant amount of roasting (or total lack of roasting before various oxidation levels are reached) of the same tea to get to understand oxidation & hopefully enjoy the various levels of it.

However, the main thing is to have good tea to drink (of course). Fortunately, right now I do have quite a bit.

I also admire your discipline. To have tea from Origin still is amazing. Cheers
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Victoria
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Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:43 pm

Ethan, Very generous words. I agree with your idea that to experience side by side various levels of oxidation/ roasting would be interesting. Origin's 2010 High Fire LiShan was a gift from Ferg a few years ago. I suspect it was sold a bit aged.

Savoring TeaFul's buttery smooth and sweet LiShan. Jason really knows how to pick excellent oolong from Taiwan, their specialty. His Muzha and #18 and #21 are really rich as well.

TeaFul LiShan Taisuke Shiraiwa Seifu Yohei_1010042.jpg
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Victoria
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Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:44 pm

Into day two of extended steeps with several oolong from a mini tasting yesterday with Jason; Origin 2010 Dong Ding Competition, Origin Hualien Mixiang Red, LazyCat House Rougui 2017, and a house everyday red oolong he just brought from Taiwan. LazyCat Rougui stood up pretty well to A grade Origin teas, although it’s body was thinner and lighter. Jason actually preferred LazyCat’s lighter body, that got me thinking about standards of taste, personal preferences, and scales of excellence. It seems some teas reach a scale of excellence that most can agree are superior, while other teas might hit the B, B+, A-, mark for some, but not for everyone. Just musing about levels of excellence and personal preferences. Have you had many oolong that you would say reached A A+ level of excellence? Which ones?
Mitten5
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Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:10 pm

I am drinking a "wild orchid pearl" oolong from Nepali Teas. 10g pearl in 120cc, boiling water. Steeped for about 30s then let it sit and steam for 5 minutes to unroll a bit, and broke it up with my hands the rest of the way. Followed by 10s, 20s, 30s, etc... to chase flavor.

Was bland in the early steeps, turned very sweet after steep 5. Notes like sugarcane, almost no bitterness or harsh notes. Balanced roast, slightly nutty, not very floral. Not very fragrant either. Not incredibly interesting but enjoyable. Died by steep 9 or so.
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Victoria
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Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:49 pm

Mitten5 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:10 pm
I am drinking a "wild orchid pearl" oolong from Nepali Teas. 10g pearl in 120cc, boiling water. Steeped for about 30s then let it sit and steam for 5 minutes to unroll a bit, and broke it up with my hands the rest of the way. Followed by 10s, 20s, 30s, etc... to chase flavor.

Was bland in the early steeps, turned very sweet after steep 5. Notes like sugarcane, almost no bitterness or harsh notes. Balanced roast, slightly nutty, not very floral. Not very fragrant either. Not incredibly interesting but enjoyable. Died by steep 9 or so.
Welcome to TeaForum Mitten5. I see you are an old-time drinker. Ha, that's a lot of leaf. Interesting, a roasted oolong from Nepal, I guess its labeled as an oolong because of the processing method. What is the level of oxidation? Tillerman posted about this and I'm still wrapping my head around processing and naming of teas. Ooolong processing method: wilting bruising /partial oxidation /panning, baking /rolling /drying /frying.

After reading vendor description the process sounds to be that of a black tea; with oolong -rolling only happens after panning and baking; "After plucking, the leaves are withered and rolled in mechanical rollers. The leaves are then placed in a shaping machine and further dried, producing the distinctive pearls. " Tilllerman talks about this in his article as well.
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Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:20 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:49 pm
Ha, that's a lot of leaf. Interesting, a roasted oolong from Nepal, I guess its labeled as an oolong because of the processing method. What is the level of oxidation?
Yes I just dropped in 1 pearl because it was convenient. I would say it is moderately oxidized, and not deeply roasted at all either. It is oxidized enough to make a dark sweet aftertaste and medium amber color, and they do not say it is roasted. The website for Nepali just says withered and bruised in a machine, then it is rolled into the pearl shape and further dried in the pearl shape. They do not include that many of the details on the website. If they only undergo the steps listed, then I would say that according to the way Tillerman talks about it, he would classify this as a "partially oxidized black tea."

IMO rolling versus tumbling should not be the defining cutoff between black and oolong, I would argue an incompletely oxidized tea that undergoes a fixation step is an oolong. I don't think making the distinction of "how" the oxidation was accomplished is proper. As he says in the last paragraph of that page:
Oolongs (as opposed to those teas masquerading as such) are oxidized during and after the bruising process and the oxidation is stopped by pan firing. Only after this pan firing, are the tea leaves rolled and then dried.
If the bruising is accomplished with a machine, I do not think that automatically disqualifies the tea from oolong-hood. Anyways, that seems like semantics.
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Victoria
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Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:56 pm

Yes right, from the vendor's description and if we use Tillerman method, it does sound to be a "partially oxidized black tea".
Mitten5 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:20 pm
IMO rolling versus tumbling should not be the defining cutoff between black and oolong, I would argue an incompletely oxidized tea that undergoes a fixation step is an oolong. I don't think making the distinction of "how" the oxidation was accomplished is proper. As he says in the last paragraph of that page:
Oolongs (as opposed to those teas masquerading as such) are oxidized during and after the bruising process and the oxidation is stopped by pan firing. Only after this pan firing, are the tea leaves rolled and then dried
Classification and naming of teas is a tough call, as mentioned by Bok and Ethan in that TeaForum thread when they spoke of Darjeeling not really being black tea. I would agree with that for sure. Seems to make sense to me that if a tea (as in black tea) is rolled before baking, oxidation will continue until it is dried. If baking occurs before rolling (as in oolong) oxidation is halted earlier on. Another thing, I would prefer that the designation 'Oolong tea' be limited to Taiwan and parts of China, like Champagne only coming from the Champagne region of France. Just some thoughts.

Here is a tea processing chart I sometimes refer to;
Tea Processing Methods Chart.jpg
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Bok
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:58 am

Back in Taiwan from a Europe trip. Climate really does matter when drinking tea! The dry air in central Europe is very detrimental to the tea enjoyment! Of course water plays a role too, but even if I change the water, the difference is astonishing. Teas that I know inside out, become sometimes unrecogniseable! All of them taste a lot less fragrant and powerful than when I brew them in humid Asia.

KZ wrote on the correlation of smell and subsequently, how humidity or lack of it, affects the perception of smell. For anyone who wants the scientific facts behind this phenomenon...

Brilliant teas turn into just ok teas. I fear the day I might need to move back... And overall a thing to watch out for anyone living in dry climate.

On the water as well:
I can drink the water out of the tap anywhere where I am from, even lakes or rivers, but my tea is so much better with my filtered tap in Taiwan.

Black teas or roasted oolongs hold up a bit better, but the high mountains are getting massacred...
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Psyck
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:20 am

Interesting, I had not heard of teas appearing less fragrant in drier climates compared to humid ones. Have others here experienced something similar, say between two temperately warm regions but one dry & one humid?
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Bok
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:25 am

Psyck wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:20 am
Interesting, I had not heard of teas appearing less fragrant in drier climates compared to humid ones. Have others here experienced something similar, say between two temperately warm regions but one dry & one humid?
You might not hear it simply because most people will lack the comparison!

You will need to have extended time spent drinking teas in both climates and preferably the exact same teas, otherwise one tea just might seem less good than another and one would not necessarily attribute it to the climate conditions.
I noticed it only after some time and only because I know my rotation of teas very well by now, so differences become apparent quickly.

In my opinion a neglected aspect of tea consumption next to the big ones: leaf, water, temperature and vessel.
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Victoria
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:05 pm

Bok how long were you in Europa? Yes, for sure, humidity in the air will help carry aroma, just like steam does. For this reason when pouring tea I enjoy placing my head directly above the pot’s spout, to soak in the aroma of the tea flowing out. I do think another factor in enjoying teas is we each calibrate our brewing technique to our specific location’s micro-climate, storage, water, kettle, brewing vessel... When we travel, quantity of tea used/ml of water/temp/time all will vary from our home baseline. This happens to me when I go east to Annapolis, where humidity levels are much higher than in Santa Monica. I find switching up what I usually drink helps, to avoid the disappointment of comparison, but in the end when I get home the experience is much more satisfying. I think it takes a while also to get a tea calibrated to a specific location’s characteristics, and ones taste.
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Bok
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:13 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:05 pm
Bok how long were you in Europa?
For the longer part of my life, that’s where I grew up :)

Adapting the parameters helps, but the surrounding air is a mighty large factor to work around I fear! It did not bother me in the beginning of my discovery of Taiwanese teas when I was living there, due to lack of comparison and experience with those teas, now it is more obvious.

Not sure if I would even dare to let a Dongding open up in these conditions without some sort of pumidor!
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Victoria
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:21 pm

Bok wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:13 pm
Victoria wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:05 pm
Bok how long were you in Europa?
For the longer part of my life, that’s where I grew up :)

Adapting the parameters helps, but the surrounding air is a mighty large factor to work around I fear! It did not bother me in the beginning of my discovery of Taiwanese teas when I was living there, due to lack of comparison and experience with those teas, now it is more obvious.

Not sure if I would even dare to let a Dongding open up in these conditions without some sort of pumidor!
Ah I see. Well I was asking how long, because I wondered how long the tea had a chance to settle down from its travels :D
You were traveling with greener un/lightly roasted DongDing? I agree though that higher oxidation, higher roasted teas do better when traveling.

p.s. So which teas did you travel with?
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