Tea Tasting: Yushan Oolong from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.

As you may know, I have a particular liking of oolong tea, particularly when the weather starts to chill down in autumn or warm up in spring. After hearing that some of the best oolong tea comes from Taiwan, I’ve started ordering from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. They have a nice assortment of teas, with good prices, and their shipping is not terrible. Plus, they ship from the US, so things get here in a reasonable amount of time.

But one unexpected lovely thing is that they include a little sample of some delicious tea in each order. The first time, I got a “green oolong” and this time I got a rolled, lightly oxidized Yushan oolong to try. I brought it to the office to finish out the week and steeped it primarily in my gaiwan. Because it’s rolled, I was light-handed with the tea leaves and a 10-gram sample packet gave me two days of tea, about 8-10 steepings in gaiwan for each serving.

The first session, I decided to start cautiously and steeped it in 180-degree water for an initial minute and a half, and then one-minute steepings after that, until the last couple, when I noticed the flavor was going, so I increased the time by a bit. It’s a subtle and delicate tea, but still has plenty of oolong character and floralness. I actually detect a hint of cannabis in the scent of the leaves and the brewed tea, but not in an unpleasant way.

The second session, I decided to make the first steeping quite long, and then go to one-minute steepings. That seemed to open up the tea a bit more and offered a slight hint of honey sweetness, with more the floral/cannabis notes as well. And there was almost no bitterness to speak of, even with longer steeping times and a final steeping in 200-degree water.

Finally, I wanted to make a subjective note: I found that this tea made me feel slightly giddy and happy. I’d had a rather tough week and I found myself with almost a bounce in my step and a vigor to complete my lingering weekly tasks. I can’t necessarily guarantee it was the oolong, but I certainly noticed a difference from my mood earlier in the week, and the tea was the only new thing.

Please note: I was sent this as a free sample, but not in exchange for a review. In fact, I don’t think Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. is even aware of my blog. I just like their tea.

A Tea Tasting: Simple Loose Leaf Jade Oolong, in Guywan

This weekend, I received my February box from Simple Loose Leaf. In it, I found a sample of a tea I’d actually had before. I had a cup of it (about half the sample) on Friday morning before going to mum’s, and had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. So when I had a quiet hour on Sunday, I decided to do a proper tasting in my guywan.

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Jade Oolong is a lightly oxidized oolong with rolled leaves that is, sadly, unavailable from the Simple Loose Leaf shop right now. Hopefully they get it back in soon! I drink a lot of black tea in the winter because it feels rich, warming, and comforting, but I do love a good cup of Oolong. Jade Oolong is a classic floral Oolong with honey and grassy notes, and just a bit of tannin. It really shone in the guywan because the different steepings had distinct characteristic. It wasn’t until the third steeping that I really noticed a new wave of sweetness coming out.

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I was also excited to use one of the lovely holiday gifts Boyfriend got me: a new electric kettle! Our old kettle’s lid broke and we managed as best we could, but recently, it failed spectacularly enough that we had to retire it entirely. We had been using my office kettle for a while, but I awoke Christmas morning to find that Boyfriend had bought me a fancy new kettle. The new kettle not only will heat water to an exact temperature, but it will also hold the water at that temperature if you set it to. So I was able to set the kettle to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and keep it there while I did the various steepings. That way, I didn’t have to wait for the kettle to reheat in between.

All in all, Jade Oolong is a medium-bodied tea with a golden color and a floral-grassy aroma. The flavor brings in more honey notes, and the first steeping finished with a long tannic finish. The later steepings gradually lost the bitterness and tannin, and the third steeping brought in a lovely bright acidity and sweetness. I drank four steepings before I stopped taking notes, but I had a fifth a little later on. It is a truly lovely tea and I hope Simple Loose Leaf gets it back in stock soon!

 

A Quiet Moment and a Nice Cup of Tea

I’ve started meditating again. It’s part of a larger project I’ve taken on to improve my acting, but the most important part it seems is that I’ve started meditating again. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy looking at the world from my cushion. After my first session, just propped up on a pillow on the bed, I opened my eyes and the whole world seemed luminous with possibility. That’s how quieting my mind makes me feel.

I’ve gone through so much of recent months in a bit of a haze, a fog of never really paying attention except at some specific moments. But meditation is bringing me back my awareness. So I made myself a cup of tea when I got to work, as I usually do. I finished off a packet of Four Seasons oolong from Simple Loose Leaf. A lovely little tea, blending floral and milky flavors in the oolong.

I busied myself while the kettle boiled and the leaves steeped. I read the news and checked email. And then I brought the cup to my mouth and was hit with a waft of fragrance from the tea. I had forgotten just how lovely and complex it smelled. And my new mindfulness had me sit for a moment and marvel in the loveliness of the tea. I savored my first sip and just slowed down in a way I haven’t slowed down for a while. Here’s hoping I bring that slowness to the rest of my day and week.