Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Temple Road Tea: Crane Monk Light Oolong, A Tea Review

Ah, last night's eclipse was fantastic. Other than a pretty violent fight with my tripod (I am going to need a new one very soon) and the cold, it was a spectacular showing. I celebrated with a cup of beautifully dark colored Shui Xian to reflect to color of the moon at full eclipse and took some decent photos. Now the weather is turning warm again, and that means tomorrow I am harvesting violets for candied violets. Spring is a very happy time.

Today's tea is very much in the theme of spring time, Crane Monk Light Oolong by Temple Road is a beautiful green oolong from Shan Lin Xi, Nantou County, Taiwan. I snipped open the sample package and was immediately slammed with intense floral aroma, I am not saying it was overwhelming (because flowers make me happy) but it was incredibly intense! The aroma is an incredibly heady mix of orchids and hyacinth flowers with a sweet honeysuckle quality. The floral aroma fades to green vegetation and chestnuts, and from that we have a finish of honeyed bread. The aroma is one of the most intensely floral aromas I have experienced from an Oolong, it is fantastic, the other notes are great as well, but that floral intensity really steals the show.

I tossed my leaves into the gaiwan for a nice steeping (after what seems like an eternity of sniffing) and when I lifted the lid I was again greeted by incredible floral. Hello orchids, hyachinth, honeysuckle, and gardenia. There is a bouquet of flowers and their accompaniment of green vegetation in my gaiwan. There is also a creamy quality to the aroma that gives it a heaviness along with headiness. The liquid is very heady, primarily orchid with a hint of orange blossom and vegetation. It is one of those teas that smells like nature, and that makes me immensely happy.

For the first steep, well, give me a moment I need to come up with words that are not just a pile of inarticulate yummy noises. Sometimes I am not dignified when I am sipping a really good tea. The initial taste is incredibly sweet and floral, orangeblossoms and honeysuckles with rich leafy notes. It tastes like what a conservatory smells like, blending flowers, vegetation, and a heavy warmth that makes you never want to leave. The mouthfeel is buttery smooth and thick, I think I could get lost in this tea.

Second steep time! The aroma is still intensely sweet and heady, also creamy and freshly green. I really enjoy how complex the aroma of the liquid is. FLAVOR MOUTH EXPLOSION! So much intensity, no longer articulate at all. Ben, had to come see what the maniacal laughter was about since I was enjoying myself so much I turned into a super-villain. The intense floral flavor from the previous steep remains, the vegetation (the website decribes it as alpine, a term which I love and agree with!) taste is much stronger, and it is joined with a nice juicy pear. The mouthfeel is still very creamy, a pleasant surprise! Usually with oolongs that have a strong green presence I find the mouthfeel to be sharper, so this is quite unique.

Ok, try to regain some composure for steep number three, because you all know I couldn't stop there. The aroma has calmed a bit, still intense orchid and gardenia with a bit of vegetation. The taste this time is more vegetal and green, a bit of spinach and sage with copious amounts of fresh vegetation. This flows to a delicate sweet floral, it is not as sweet as the previous steep, but the subtle sweetness lingers and is refreshing. Well, Temple Road, you have blown my mind with yet another tea, well done!



1 comment: