Review: KTeas China Oolong Kwai Flower

KTeas, Oolong Tea, Osmanthus Tea Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"From the burst of golden sunshine of the Kwai flower in the dry leaves, the very mild woody flavor of the tea has an interesting alcoholic note but it seems to leave the Kwai flower in the dark."
Raven’s Teaview: 5.3/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 5/10, Sophie gave it 7.2/10, Spencer gave it 6.9/10, Katie gave it 6.6/10
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kteaslogoNow if Mary Mary weren’t so contrary and she had a mind for tea, about this time of year, I’m sure she’d be shifting them cockle shells and silver bells to sew up some osmanthus, jasmine and chrysanthemum, to keep her drinking well and then some. As buds start to peek through the soil and spring dares to spring into life, floral teas seem a choice way to toast the chirping birds. While jasmine most certainly is the most abundant bloom in the bunch around these parts, both chrysanthemum and osmanthus are frequently added to Chinese teas. Since chrysanthemums are the florists staple, a tribute to spring seems to invite something fresh and new like the breezes of the season. So I set my sights on Osmanthus, or Kwai flower, whose lispy name also goes by Fragrant tea olive and gui hua and whose peachy fragrance sounded ever so fanciful in Ktea’s China Oolong Kwai flower. It was also a nice variation to have an oolong showcase the blossoms rather than the lower oxidation of most jasmine teas available. This oolong is a darker oolong from Fujian province, as mentioned on the Ktea's website (https://www.kteasonline.com/product/510) where 'China oolong' generally describes a mix of large leafed varieties.

With my first look at the leaves, I can almost hear the grass growing as the osmanthus seems a burst of spring sunshine. The small golden orange osmanthus flowers brighten the dark hickory brown stripes of the oolong just as sweetly as spring buds on fruit trees and inspire similar anticipation. The tawny brown of the leaves attests to the heavy oxidation while offering a variety of sizes and bends in their shapes. The toasty walnut and oaky notes of the classic dark oolong aroma nod further to the roasting while slighter florals of the osmanthus presumably, like irises or lilacs, sweeten the light to medium scent with a bit of dried pear. Although it isn't a deep, thick smell like some Fujian oolongs, a tingle of carbonation adds a hint of beer hops and uniqueness to the aroma. The fragrance is certainly inviting like a cozy wool sweater with its woody complexity.

In order to grow up this Kwai flower, Kteas suggests steeping three grams in 195 °F water for 2-3 minutes after a quick rinse of the leaves. Thus I sewed three teaspoons into my teapot and watered judiciously to see what would sprout. Set to bloom, light filter and woody notes highlight the brownish orange brew that has green undertones to the colour, as if to aptly display the harmony between the perky gold osmanthus petals and the dark oolong if not the cheeriest looking cup. The infusion isn't as floral as the leaves but there is still an engaging scent of a fruity carbonated spirit, like a cross between wine and beer or a low alcohol ale, amidst the soothing toastier and dry leaf aromas.

Given the dark hue of the brew, the taste of the tea is quite surprisingly light. Although the tea has a light to medium body, this flower seems afraid to blossom as it doesn't open up on the palate. Instead, it feels as though it seems to evade the tastebuds, slipping past from a slight waxiness. This twist of viscosity is probably the most entertaining character of the cup and it does keep me sipping as I try to figure it out. However, rumbling underground, the muted flavour is just as hard to discern. Traces of dry leaves and oats that offer an amiable oakiness, are touched with a slight alcoholic fruitiness to lend an interesting cup overall but the weak flavours aren't really provoking. I still can't say that I'd know what Kwai flower or osmanthus tastes like, as it seem to contribute little to the taste, in spite of their lovely appearance, which was somewhat disappointing.

Further steeping of the leaves brings an orange gold infusion that still has a tinge of green to it that proceeds to a greenish gold. Since the first cup was so mild, additional brewing, even with increased steeping times doesn't bring a heartier cup. After also trying a brew without an initial rinse, first rinsing the leaves is a good preparation since it seemed oddly slimy without it. Yet both the second and third infusions have a light leafy, malty scent and the tea never becomes bitter or dry to make it easy to drink.

While Ktea's China Oolong Kwai Flower's combination of osmanthus and a dark oolong is a grand idea with a pleasant mildness, it may not have enough pep to put the spring in one's step.

— To purchase KTeas China Oolong Kwai Flower, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Raven Raven
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