So today's blog is going to be something a little fun and special, it is going to be a double post. By that I mean that the first post (this one) will be a direct comparison to the second post, and my reason for doing this is all about harvest. Sanne Tea sent me a sample of their 2015 Oriental Beauty Oolong and their 2014 harvest, so I thought why not do a side by side comparison? It is not often I get to try different harvests made by the same farmer while being able to use the same tea gear and only have a few hours between steeping sessions. Time to let the bug bitten party begin!
Starting with the 2014 Summer Oriental Beauty and the leaves are quite fluffy and silvery, I am always afraid of smushing Oriental Beauty, though luckily I have not yet done so. The aroma of the dry leaves is surprisingly fruity, Oriental Beauty tends to be fruity, but I have in the past found it to be mostly grapes, this version has grapes, dried apples, dried pears and honey. There is also a hint of loam at the finish, amusingly this complex tea is very mild. I always find it fascinating how a tea can be complex and yet have a faint aroma, it is like nose treasure hunting to pick out what all is there.
Brewing this tea (and the 2015 harvest) in my funky new gongfu teapot with lovely red peonies, a suitable amount of pretty for a delicate tea. The aroma of the now steeped leaves is a blend of rich, musky grapes and apples with loam and honey. The liquid is sweet honey, apples, and raisins, it is light and delicate.
The first steep is very light, in color, taste, and mouthfeel. Starting with a delicate smooth and light mouthfeel, Sanne Tea describes Oriental Beauty's name, it is inspired by the leaves spreading out like a lady's skirt while dancing...but to me it is the mouthfeel that dances. The taste is primarily honey sweetness, like wildflower honey with an addition of light grapes and apples. The aftertaste is a very delicate pear note.
The aroma for the second steep does not change much in notes, but it does get stronger in intensity, especially in the apple department. This steep is very sweet, reminding me of apple wine, blending sweet apple and white grapes with copious honey. The apple notes give it a lightness that I have not before encountered with Oriental Beauty, a tea which is light, but also rich. The finish is strong honey and pear, both of which linger for a short while.
The third steeping's aroma has honey and apples, with a note of pear, and a strong finish of raisins, there is also a very light hint of loam at the finish. The mouthfeel is still quite light, but it is also quite smooth, the taste is not as potent as last steep, it is as delicate as the first, though it is very sweet like the second. It is like both the steeps were mixed! The notes of pear and apple mix with sweet honey, at the finish there is a lingering but very light spice. This tea scores serious points in my book for having pear and apple notes, now time to move on to 2015!
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.