|" As grapealicious as it is oolong, kind of like a purple Jolly Rancher melted in a lovely floral oolong, it’s a bit wacky and a bit wondrous at the same time. "|
While their Kyoho Grape Oolong is described as containing just oolong tea with natural Kyoho Grape extract, upon seeing the tea, there’s a few lavender flowers and fruit seed-like bits along for the ride. I don’t know whether either are deliberate but it wasn’t so bothersome aside the lovely neat nuggets of the oolong nicely wound and dappled with fern and dark greens. The tea actually seems to take a cue from the lavender as their sweet bouquet bursts with a floral infused grapeness. With a delicacy of fresh flowers yet certainly grape-like, the fruitiness seems to build from the oolong’s floral overlaid with a light grape candy aroma. As a result, it’s not so artificial or synthetic seeming yet has a lavender and orchid like combination with a softness to the fruity notes. It’s surprisingly delightful and curious at the same time.
Gripped in the grape’s anticipation, to brew, Naivetea recommends steeping a whole tablespoon of leaves per six ounces. While none too shy an amount, they suggest a first fifty second infusion followed by 2:40s, 3:50s, 4:60s, 5:70s, right on up to seven (2 min.), so there’s many a cup in store. With 200°F water, the first brew starts sweetly and even more curious. With a medium scent, both oolong and grape are certainly present which is wonderful and wacky at the same time. The brothiness of the oolong nods with character aside its beautiful floral spirit that jives with the sweet grape to soften its fruitiness for quite a mix. The beautiful thing is that this is certainly not some second rate oolong for a base, as it has the enamouring qualities of savoury and sensuous with its salty floral halves. On the other hand, the grape is purple and so it doesn’t really have a natural equivalent but it becomes more floral as it is delivered with a delicate hand to remind me of a flavoured water. It has a sweetness, but not a sticky one, and levity of fruitiness to lend a fruit blossomy feel. I don’t think the combination could be done more justice, but I’m not sure it’s the dreamiest of scents, or rather, quite what I was expecting.
While the grape might be purple, the brew is brilliantly light yellow, with the familiar Formosa hue. Just as present as the aroma, the sip brings a marvelous coupling of oolong and grape flavours. I think they play off each other in juxtaposition rather than synchronicity but they do find a tasty rhythm. The grape flavour is also purple, and reminiscent of dark purple hard candies in slant but it’s almost winy, like a Marechal foch, without it being overt or harsh, as it’s integrated with a bit of acidity but it seems not so dimensional as to completely be fruit-like or like concord grapes. The floral aspects of the grapeness may also be amplified by the oolong’s exhale of floral and wheatgrass that lives in a leafy aftertaste and build, perfuming the grape with an orchid-like flourish to make it almost jasmine-like.
The second steep is just as vivid in hue and character, brimming with a medium grapey aroma. Still sweet, the grapey lavender mingles amidst the buttery starch fullness of the oolong with an amusing flutter. The flavour is also just as sweetly grape, as the oolong lightens with less brothiness. Instead, the grassy meadow floral is a smooth, mild backdrop to the grape candy flavour that fuses in a light, long aftertaste of grape skin. From the third infusion, the tea maintains a medium bouquet with a hard candy sugar tinged scent as the grape seems a bit more like warmed red grapes and stems against the blossomy oolong notes. While the body persists, the flavour relaxes into a light grape soda with flickers of florals from the rising mineral sense. Fading into a light aftertaste, the grape seems a bit more artificial tasting but remains pleasant.
While Naivetea includes brewing suggestions for seven infusions as a general guideline, four seemed to be luckier. The subsequent cups are colourful enough but the flavour falls mostly into the aftertaste, like a light lavender jasmine with just some acidity of the oolong. I also found that it’s worthwhile not skimping on the quantity of tea used in the initial brew in order to appreciate the base oolong’s character.
As fun as Kyoho is to say, Naïvetea crafted an oolong to match. With a groovy sweet flavour and aroma that is near as much oolong as grape, their Kyoho Grape Oolong is a crafty combination indeed. I don’t know if it is the quintessential grape oolong, as I can’t help wondering how a darker oolong might complement them clusters. Yet, as tasty iced as warm, it’s a divine way to get one’s grape on that won’t turn one’s tongue purple.
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