Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tea Review: Formosa Oolong (Metropolitan Tea Company)

Formosa Oolong
Metropolitan Tea Company
Type:  Oolong
Origin:  Taiwan, Tung Ting Province
Product Description:  Oolong means semi fermented. After rolling, the tea is allowed to ferment only until the edges of the leaves start to turn brown. The tea is then fired which arrests the fermenting process and captures the interesting character associated with Oolong tea. In Taiwan, producing oolong tea involves highly specialized skills in the control of the withering, oxidation and firing. A slight variance in any of these gives each variety a distinctive aroma, flavor, color and finish.

The best Oolongs come from Taiwan (Formosa) where the character of short-fired oolongs has been described as peach like with a refreshing fruity herbaceous character whereas long-fired oolongs take on bakey notes with rich amber liquids. This tea falls into the latter category.

Temperature: 195° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf is dark and heavily oxidized, with an aroma of sweet hay.  

The infusion is red-amber until the third infusion when it changes to a warm orange color.  The aroma during the first infusion is bakey, reminding me of burnt sugar or molasses, with a hint of tobacco and citrus/lemongrass notes.  During later infusions, I also picked up spicy floral notes.  There are elements of burnt sugar and something green and wild like dandelion in the flavor as well as smoky wood notes.  This tea is moderately astringent and has a dry finish.

I generally prefer teas with less astringency, but I found that my taste buds really woke up with this tea and all the little notes hidden under the initial bakey flavor really started to pop midway through my first cup.  While there might be a temptation to drink this quickly, I recommend lingering over it to let the underlying flavors blossom.  

This was tea was provided as part of a workshop.

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