Review: Canton Tea Co. Jade Oolong

Canton Tea Co., Oolong Tea Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"More silky floral than savoury vegetal, the tea is simple joy as its beautiful lily perfume streams through the mineral cup. "
Raven’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8.6/10, Shaiha gave it 6.2/10
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Although Canton Tea company is ‘The China Tea Specialist’, they have such a fine hand with teas, it’s hard not to be wooed to venture out of the country. Jumping off of China to Taiwan, one might just land on Jade Mountain since it is the highest peak on the island. Thus, their Jade oolong seemed the perfect first jaunt. Harvested in the fall of 2010, the actual homeland of their Jade oolong is Nantou county of Taiwan from the Yu or Jade mountain range. With such peaks in sight as a buttery floral aroma described on the Canton Tea Company website, the tea was bound to cushion the tumble to Taiwan.

The expedition unwinds with the first map of the leaves. Surprisingly small, the wee pine green nuggets are quite dark, seeming to behold territory secrets. Each has a fine finish and uniform colour with a few lighter fern green pellets amongst them, each with their thin clay stems tucked in. Their scent is larger though as their medium bouquet brings a sweet greeting. The fresh landscape opens with lots to admire from the intertwined aromas of green meadowy clover and sweet pot pourri and alfalfa hay. The green notes are bright and appetizing with just a hint of protein umami that conjures green bok choy, and chive blossoms from their tender vitality. With such an enticing glimpse, it’s a short hop, skip and jump to the kettle to brew.

Canton Tea Company writes the ticket to a scant cup of the tea by flying two teaspoons of tea with 194°F water for two to three minutes so follow along I did with a two minute steep. Cast ashore from the leaves, the cup is a dullish wheat hue with a hint of blue, not as sunshiney yellow as some other high mountain but the tea’s perfume brings clearer skies. With a medium strong fragrance, the cup dawns full of green goodness as lily of the valley perfumes cooked romaine, dry peas and subtler cooked green onions. Poignant and clear, the aroma has a delicately woven delicacy, rather than richness. From the sweet florals, it could also seem a bit like asian pears without the juiciness. Leaping into the brew, the body is just as delicate, airy almost, to continue the glide. Yet, the slippery feel has enough flavour, infused with a pretty lily and lilac-like flavour tickled with the stems attached as the slightly mineral greenness of the floral reminds me more of raw fennel, leaf lettuce and chives than a more assertive vegetal or starchy flavour. Energetic, the flavour is simple joy, pretty without being cloying or ornate as the floral flavour seems quite synchronous, rather than highly faceted. In comparison to other high mountain oolongs, it has less protein nuttiness or vegetal savour, lending more suggestions of fruitiness like pears or key limes from the mix of floral and stemminess. Somersaulting into a quick finish, a light orchid reclines on the tip of one’s tongue briefly. Yet flying through the tea, a piney leek like vegetal layers one’s breath.

After falling so easily through the cup, it’s none too soon for another steeping. With the tumbled array of the kinky leaves still cozied in coils, they certainly have the fuel. A second three minute steep is a hazier golden yellow. Fresh spring aromas still radiate from the cup although the light to medium bouquet seems more diffuse. Yet, it retains an amusing combination of floral and vegetal notes. The lily-like scents have a corn silk touch almost a bit like ti kuan yin while the green aromas acquire a hint of spruce. The flavour also relaxes, seeming slightly thin but still complete. The silky texture of the first cup ebbs into a soft, less silky feel but remains delightful. Though less intense, light lily flavours bounce through at the start and end of the sip as milder vegetal flavours like cooked lettuce and chayote maintain a subtly vegetal substance like a light vegetable stock without being hearty. As the playful lily green notes infuse the mineral body, the flavour also reminds me some of under-ripe bartletts without a fruity or vegetal sweetness while there isn’t any astringency or bitterness either. As it slips into the finish, a light aftertaste lingers in one’s mouth, like cooked lily leaves or chive leaves that seems a bit pinier and as it builds through the cup, it seems fruitier, like quince. A third infusion seems a bit road weary but sill has some flavour to hang on to. The aroma has just a whisper of meadow with a dash of salt as the flavour loses distinction but retains a lightly perfumed green, stock like taste. As it builds to a grassy floral, clover in one's breath, it still has a happy airiness that isn't too dry.

Finally at rest, the leaves are beautifully intact. A dark teal green, they span an incredible range of sizes from less than an inch to almost two that bend to and fro. Rimmed with a thin rusted edge, the languor of the whole single leaves is easily admired with very little stem breaking their calm strides.

After the leap to Yu Shan, Canton Tea Company seems pretty limber. The lovely floral bouquet and easy depth keeps one reeling to make a fantastic introduction to high mountain oolongs indeed as Canton Tea Company suggests. Plus, the tender energy would seem great to dive into as much to warm up before one’s own acrobatics as for an unwinding stretch.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Jade Oolong, 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.

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