|"The light brown infusion smelled vaguely of caramel and cocoa. Never have I run into an oolong where that's the case. A Darjeeling or two with molasses-like noses, sure. Oolongs, not a one. I swear I cleaned the cup I used."|
I'm not sure what category American Tea Room's Big Red Robe offering falls into, but it certainly smells like a Wuyi-grown oolong; all fruit-smoke-earthy. The leaves are smoke-black, indicating an extensive roasting process, but not leathery to the scent. There's a bit of nuance to the nose, which I have come across in high-altitude Guanyin oolongs.
Brewing for this roasted tea seemed surprisingly light. American Tea Room recommended adhering to a 175F temperature and a brew time of two-to-three minutes. I could understand the steep length, but the lighter temperature puzzled me. I wasn't about to deviate, though. Oolongs can be touchy. I used 1 tsp. per 8oz of water for two-minutes-thirty.
The light brown infusion smelled vaguely of caramel and cocoa. Never have I run into an oolong where that's the case. A Darjeeling or two with molasses-like noses, sure. Oolongs, not a one. I swear I cleaned the cup I used. The taste was less appealing than the aroma, however. By oolong standards, it was pleasant enough - and did possess that berry-ish tinge from the dry batch. Lacking was, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, the smoky flavor. I wanted at least a little smoke. What is odd is that I usually don't like oolongs for exactly that reason. That said, I will give credit where it's due, it's a damn smooth drink. As oxidized as the leaves looked, I wasn't tasting tannins at all. Sure, it was earthy, but it didn't feel like burnt leather on the tongue. Not my favorite, but still good.
I might not lay down a red robe for the tea bush it came from, but maybe a pair of plaid pajamas. What? I like plaid.
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