|"There was a mild astringent note followed by citrus-sour-floral trifecta but no real oolong character. I can't say this was a flaw, but rather a surprise. "|
It was 11:30AM on a Tuesday. I had every intention of getting up earlier to get some writing done. (Yes, I write things other than reviews!) Unfortunately, the morning was almost gone. I heard from an e-tea pal that oolong helped her wake up physically and creatively. But I was craving an Earl Grey. There had to be something in my sample arsenal that could act as a concession.
Amidst my review samples was an Oolong Earl Grey put out by Red Leaf Tea. It combined Formosan (Taiwanese) roasted oolong, jasmine flowers, and bergamot; what an unusual combination. I could see the jasmine petals in the dark brown oolongy mass, and they certainly contributed to the scent. Coupled with the bergamot, the scent – and I swear this rhyming scheme’s accidental – was “sour-flower”. The decision of what to drink was made for me.
Brewing instructions called for 1 tsp of leaves brewed in 6oz of 190F water for up to eight minutes. That left a lot of wiggle room, almost too much. Ever the moderate, I went the middle road with a four-minute steep – 1 tbsn in 8oz. I had to treat it as close to a normal oolong as possible. Some tend to get too dry on the tongue if overdone.
The biggest surprise was how dark this brewed. One would expect an oolong – even roasted – to brew to a green, gold or amber. This brewed auburn-to-brown like a normal Earl Grey with a Ceylon black base would. The aroma almost tricked me into thinking so as well; it smelled like Earl Grey. The oolong base was effectively masked by a medium-sour aroma. Same went for taste, too. There was a mild astringent note followed by citrus-sour-floral trifecta but no real oolong character. I can’t say this was a flaw, but rather a surprise.
I would recommend this to those who like their Earl Greys strong in taste but not in delivery. Oolong retains about two-thirds the amount of caffeine as a good strong black tea. This has the color and taste of a lighter black but without the wallop. True, some want the wallop. But if an afternoon Earl is needed, this would make a perfect option. And on a subjective note, it got me writing this review while I was still in my pajamas. Gotta give it props for that.
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