|"While the leaves look kind of plummy, the earthy spiciness and tang of the tea is closer to a pickled umemboshi than a juicy ripe damson. "|
Visually, the mix is quite dark from the jet black cut leaf pieces of the oolong and black tea that are hardly differentiable. At about a quarter inch, the matte leaves have a loose twist with a dose of brownish stems that even the hibiscus blends in. Yet, the golden osmanthus flowers and sherry coloured rosehip hulls are a warming contrast, regal almost. Popping out amidst the leaves, there’s also small schizandra berries whose dry indigo burgundy add to the variety of dark shades and shapes. Amusingly, the leaves seem to capture every kind of plum hue. Yet, tumbling into the leaves, the bouquet is quite curious. With a surprising spiciness and rather savoury, the aroma reminds me of szechaun peppercorns and tomato sauce. There’s a bit of fruitiness but it’s not really sweet enough to sell fruity. Nor is it as fruity as pink peppercorns or as savoury as black while the earthy spiciness might approach a pickled umemboshi more than a juicy ripe damson. The scent is synchronous and terse or blunt with a hint of sour so it’s hard to tell what part is the base tea’s relative to the other ingredients, but in that sense, the mix is seamless. It’s a bit more interesting than tantalizing but it is a fragrant and grounded.
There’s no surprises in the sip as the tea taste much as it smells. The light to medium body curves roundly, nicely flowing with a buoyant amount of flavour. However, finding plum in the flavour is harder than the plum in the pudding. It is very straightforward with an earthy spiciness, still like szechaun peppercorns or kind of mineral coal that I think is flinty from the oolong and black with the osmanthus finishing the peppercorn-ness. The lack of sweeter flavours in the mix seems to defray the fruitiness, as the hibiscus and rosehips seem to lend their redness for a touch of near a tomato paste kind of plum, yet depending on the teaspoon one pulls, it can also be quite sour from the hibiscus tang. It’s not bitter though, and its direct, full flavour is a flip-side while it finishes with little aftertaste.
Slicing in to infuse again, the leaves carry through hardily to a third cup. Upon re-steeping, the brew is a blackish gold, hardly wavering in hue. The aroma seems to gain a bit more fruitiness from the second brew, with a hint of peach, although it still swings more to peppercorn ketchup with little sweetness and an earthy lining. Yet, the flavour is generous and less sour, although the rosehips and osmanthus maintain more presence than the oolong in the light to medium body. The feel becomes a tad dry with a light acidity left in one’s mouth.
Although not at all what I expected, Tea District’s Plum Oolong is a very unique sip. While I think I can see where the conceptual vision was going to dream up some plums, it’s not quite dancing with sugarplums, nor does it have much plum motion. Instead the mix of sour and flintiness might behold more adventure to cook with, perhaps, than quenching a parched palate for plums.
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