Might as well keep to the short-entry format that most of my entries have.
Bought: Adagio Teas, in a single, $2 sampler. About a month ago.
Brewed: 2 not so level teaspoons in 203 degrees 12 ounces of water for 4 minutes. The seven minute recommendation is nuts, in my not so humble opinion. Another infusion for another 5 minutes was just as good, and I had had enough caffeine for the afternoon or I might have gone for a third. It's that strong a leaf.
Leaf aroma: Dry: Floral and wine fragrances Wet: Moss and oolong perfume, deep florals (like tea rose or honeysuckles), tannins and citrus.
Leaf appearance: Big, fat, twisted like old trees and multi-colored green, brown, reds, and gold. When wet or spent they spread out beautifully. Mmm... watching the agony of the leaves is fun with this one.
Liquor scent: I always think of perfume with great oolongs, not just the jasmine infused ones, but the high mountain/old tree oolongs, half-oxidized, seem to have a gorgeous scent well above both green and black teas. No more hay scents as with most greens, but some of that scent on a wet fall morning, when all the leaves on the ground are wet with morning dew or rain from the night before. Like that, but intense. The liquor color is red gold.
Taste: Okay, okay. It's with this tea that I will finally acknowledge that Adagio teas isn't just the big marketing gimmick I was starting to think they were with all the specials, cutesy Mr. Tea notes, and links to a chatroom and a bunch of commercials about other tea establishments. This is the real stuff. The Yunnan gold had me halfway convinced when I finally tasted it, and they have a good price on golden monkey, if I can finish what I have and get to it.
Wuyi oolong is grown in mountainous country, it's one of the classical oolongs from the Fujian province. It's got a lot of history behind it.
And this stuff reflected all the great things an oolong can be. Big, robust flavors, rich florals, fruity overtones, and those high altitude complexities that can't be gotten anywhere else, and that long, long wine and roses finish that sticks with you long past the sip is done. Oolongs can be overwhelming to me, and I really like to have some time to really pay attention when I do have them. It's great for gung-fu tea, which is as much a meditation as anything, and I could sniff and sip to my heart's content. I just did this one as a casual encounter, with the big volumes and long steep time of the Chatsford just to see if I wanted to get to know this tea more, and now I know that I really do.
It did have just an edge of bitterness that I wasn't expecting, so my suspicion that the 7 minutes brew recommendation was nuts would be even more in force. It would have been much worse if I'd followed their brewing times. I may try it even a touch shorter with smaller volumes. I will also say that I've had oolongs you could soak all day and they wouldn't provide a hint of bitterness, so this isn't the best an oolong can be, but it was real good.
Best of all it's at a great price. The one ounce Wuyi that Imperial tea court sells is nearly $20 an ounce. I think this sample had a good half an ounce for only two dollars, even with the bitterness, it's a good value for the rest. For someone wanting to see if it would even be worth paying money for great oolongs, this might be a good thing to start with to get a good feeling for the personality of the things.
Rating: 8 of 10
Yes, a lot of my reviews are on the high end, but I'll also admit that I try not to buy anything I don't think I'd like, so there's pre-filtering of what I'm reviewing going on.
Hm.... maybe I should just balance things quickly by saying that the Blueberry White was undrinkable (1 of 10), that the li zi nutcracker I only got one good cup out of ten from (2 of 10) and I haven't had a single herbal from them that I could drink (1 of 10 two times over) and their flavored current black was okay (4 of 10).
Added Aug 23, 2005 I revisited this tea with a full gung-fu setup, a Yixing teapot already seasoned with some nice oolongs, a water catching tray, a filter, and one of the tea cups that Singer made me, beautiful white background with a rainbow of blues on it so I could see the color of the tea. The black one he made me is an experience just to hold, but this blue one really allows me to see. The tea was just as good this time, too, into three steeps. 2 tsps of tea in the 4 oz pot, which had been rinsed with boiling water, the leaves rinsed once, and then hot water poured over the leaves until the pot overfilled a little, then the lid went on and more hot water on top to heat the whole vessel thoroughly. The first steep was for 2 minutes, the second for 2 minutes and thirty seconds, and the last for three minutes.
First tasting was all perfumes, rich scent and almost flat flavors, again.
Second tasting had a good scent, but not the filling the air with orchids and moss kind of thing. The flavor, however, had expanded, rolling across the tongue with more base notes and tannins and that oolong body. Glorious with the eye closed.
Third tasting was like a combination of the first two but muted. Good scent, good flavors, but all fading like the end of a day.
This is why I love experiencing teas.