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tea desire ti kuan yin oolong

January 26, 2010

My weekly pilgrimage to Tea Desire was a productive one. I acquired this tea, also known as “Iron Goddess of Mercy”, which I have meant to try for a long time. I am really getting into Oolongs, they intrigue me greatly. The first Oolong I tried was the orange-blossom Oolong. It was really good, but I wanted to experience it naturally, without any other flavors clouding the true Oolong essence. So here it goes:

The dry leaves are typically Oolong. Tight, curly leaves, yet not as tightly rolled as gunpowder. The aroma is fresh, lightly smoky, a bit floral. There is some earthiness, but it’s mellow. Great for a Monday.

The cup color is a light, golden-yellow. The aromas are haunting. Faintly floral, oceanic, earthy. There is even a slight white pepper essence. I take a sip and I was surprised by the exotic, full flavor and great body this tea is displaying. I am blown away by how much I enjoy this. I knew I would like it. But I am loving this. Slighly sweet and pleasantly woody. Not overly vegetal or grassy, like a green tea might tend to be. There is a hint of green flavor, but it’s sexy, like when there’s just a little bit of skin showing. Just a touch. There is a lot of complexity. Following are the notes of my subsequent infusions:

Second Steep: Nearly exactly the same as the first steep in flavor and body. But a little lighter in aroma.

Third Steep: A little lighter in flavor and body, but the complexity is still there, with all the layers and nuances of the floral characteristics and woody notes. The nuttiness is more apparent in this infusion, tasting like a fresh Brazil nut, or blanched almond.

Fourth Steep: Still really good. Wow. This is quality stuff. Even at $16.00 for 50g, with the amount of re-infusions that this tea can take, the value skyrockets.

Fifth Steep: Lighter in color and body, still flavorful, but not as pronounced.

Sixth Steep: Ok. You get it. It keeps going and going. It’s still good, although quite delicate at this point. I won’t steep past this point.

I am extremely impressed with this Oolong. It’s a great tea to enjoy on its own, with all the depth and complexity one expects from an Oolong of this quality. And, suddenly, I am craving some sort of spicy noodle dish, which this would pair perfectly with. Mmm. While there are surely better teas out there that I have yet to try, I have to say, without a doubt, that this is the best I have ever had.

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