Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oollo Tea: Red Jade Black Tea, A Tea Review

The weather yesterday was absolutely bonkers! A few miles from my house a tornado touched down, the sirens were going off like crazy, and the best of all, I finally got to photograph a tornado. Ok only kinda, I was able to get a good look at a wall cloud and it had a funnel starting to form, there was some glorious rotation and vortices starting to drop, but it zipped back up into the clouds, this happened a few times. One of those times it did not go back into the clouds but it drifted out of my line of site...and became the confirmed tornado touch down. I thought at first that maybe it was a scud cloud, but the definite rotation told me nope, I think the most eerie thing about it was the silence, lack of wind and rain, and lack of lightning. The sky was chaos, but down on the ground (at least where I was at) it was peaceful. Even watching the live footage of the tornado (because I am weird like that) it seemed unusually silent, but it made it more obvious...rain wrapped tornadoes scare the pants off of me!

And it looks like we are about to get even more storms! But enough about my obsession with storms, it is time for some tea! Today's tea comes from Oollo Tea, their Red Jade Black Tea, a black tea from Nantou, Taiwan, and one of my favorite teas. I say that it is one of my favorites because it is just so unique in its flavor and aroma profile. Opening my sample I was greeted with beautiful curly dark leaves and a blast of unusual aroma. It manages to blend notes of fresh tomatoes (and a touch of tomato leaves) toasted peanuts, cocoa, menthol, pinto beans, and sassafras wood in a heavy, heady dance. In theory those notes together would smell off, but somehow this tea makes it work beautifully. Red Jade is immensely fascinating to me.

Brewing the tea is my green gaiwan really makes the leaves pop in contrast! The aroma of the wet leaves really pumps up the sassafras and menthol, along with cocoa and peanuts, with a touch of malt. It is unusual, the aroma is menthol, but not mint, it imparts that sharp tingle of mint without the actual 'minty' smell. The aroma of the liquid is fairly delicate, sweet notes of sassafras and tomato mixed with roasted peanuts and cocoa drift up with the steam.

The first steep is so weird but so good! It starts off a bit malty and brisk, the texture is smooth but there is a slight menthol like tingle. The taste starts off with notes of sassafrass and raisins, this moves to a slightly woody, cocoa, malt, with a finish of slightly sweet yams and a cooling menthol aftertaste.

The second steeping really sees the leaves unfurling to their full size, which is impressive! The aroma is strong with sassafras and roasted peanuts, with accents of menthol cooling and brisk malt, and a finishing hint of cherry. The taste is a powerhouse of flavor again, similar to the first steep with a smooth yet brisk mouthfeel, and a tingly menthol quality. It starts off with cocoa and sassafras woody sweetness, this transitions to yams and roasted peanuts, and the finish is a stewed fruit (primarily stone fruit) sweetness with a lingering menthol coolness.

The third steep is still going strong, the aroma is sassafras and roasted peanuts, the menthol notes are a bit lessened and the fruity notes are a bit more prominent. At the finish is a bit of malt and a hint of cocoa. The taste is still pretty intense, less smooth, more brisk, with an intense menthol tingle. The taste is almost all sassafras and fruit, sweet and woody, with a lingering coolness. I got a couple more steeps out of this tea, I wanted to get as much out of it as I could!

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