Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tea Review: Se Chung Oolong (Metropolitan Tea Company)

Se Chung Oolong
Metropolitan Tea Company
Type:  Oolong
Origin:  China, Fujian Province
Product Description:  Oolong means semi fermented. They are manufactured very similar to black teas, but are given a much shorter withering period, a light roll (according to the type of oolong being made), and then allowed to ferment only until the edges of the leafs start to turn brown. The tea is then fired which arrests the fermenting process and captures the interesting character associated with Oolong tea. Se Chung Oolong has a shorter fermentation time than other Oolongs from Fujian province resulting in more subtle Oolong character. There are delicate notes of Ti Kuan Yin style flavor combined with a slight herbaceous green character. This is why this particular tea is sought after - delicate flavor notes of a top Oolong combined with green tea characters.
The best China oolongs come from Fujian Province - in the Wuyi Mountains area since Fujian province is the historical ‘birthplace’ on China oolongs. The method of production of Oolong teas is complicated. The tea maker brings all his skills to the fore to define ‘his’ oolong. His skills and abilities could create a commercial success or a total flop.

The defining moment for Se Chung Oolong is purported to have occurred in Fujian Province during the Ching dynasty. An elderly monk who was suffering from a ‘cold sickness’ was unable to be cured by the local doctors. It was known there was a tea maker whose special tea made people well again. The tea maker was summoned to bring his tea to the sick monk. The legend does not tell what became of the monk, nor for that matter what became of the tea maker, but the style of oolong has persisted through the decades and has become on of the predominant oolongs in China - noted for superb flavour and affordable price.

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

The dry leaf smells of sweet hay and is faintly marine.  

During the first infusion, I picked up green and marine notes, something spicy, and a hint of brown sugar.  Subsequent infusions brought out sweet honey and floral notes.  The taste is sweet, floral and there is a savory note that reminds me distantly of oats.  This tea has a long, sweet and clean finish.

I found this tea very pleasing from the dry leaf aroma through to the long, sweet finish.  It did very well through three steepings and I couldn't detect any of the astringency I would have expected from greener, lightly oxidized oolongs.  

This was tea was provided as part of a workshop.

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