Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Golden Tea Leaf: Pine Oolong, A Tea Review

Ben is talking to Rita on the phone, she is still off in South America doing PeaceCorp stuff, so days she has free to talk are always awesome. Their conversation about African culture (especially pre-16th century) got me on a side tangent researching Ancient African written languages. This, in turn, led me to the city of Meroe of Kush in what is modern day Sudan. I had forgotten they existed, having learned of them back as a kid when I was obsessed with Egypt (add that to the list of dream careers I had, Egyptologist) They were a fascinating civilization, definitely Egypt's biggest fan, at least for a while, eventually they decided to have their own written language and distinct culture. The link above is a really good intro primer on the rise and fall of Meroe, and if you have an interest I say give it a read, because learning history is the best.

Today I am looking at Golden Tea Leaf's Pine Oolong, which you can find on their website and on Amazon. A nice green mountain Oolong grown in Nantou, surrounded by pine trees, which is why it is named Pine Oolong, now you might have noticed that this tea is in a sachet. I am a known teabag loather, but if the tea is quality and stuffed in a sack where the leaves can expand, I am good. Sometimes I like the convenience of either cold brewing or gongfuing a tea and just tossing the sack when I am done. Apropos of nothing, a random thunderstorm just formed overhead and we might get hail, fun! Anyway, the aroma of the leaves is lovely, the aroma reminds me of marzipan and halva, blending sweet almonds and sweet sesame with a fruity undertone and a finish of honeysuckles. You know me and my love of sweet and nutty oolongs, I am mildly addicted to them, especially this time of year.

I decided to brew this tea two ways, the first was tossing it in my teapot and brewing it gongfu style. The aroma of the wet leaves is so sweet and nutty, definite marzipan with undertones of crushed vegetation and sugar cane. The liquid is sweet too, very strong marzipan and honeysuckles with underlying crushed vegetation and sugar cane.

I was able to get many steeps out of this little bag of leaves, and they were good, sweet, steeps with a smooth mouthfeel and long lasting aftertaste. The taste is sweet marzipan, strong notes of almonds and honey drizzled sesame seeds blend with sugar cane, caramelized sugar, and a finish of gentle honeysuckle. Later steeps get a bit of a green quality, but it is very light, so those who like green oolongs but don't want a mouth full of vegetal or crushed vegetation this is a good choice.

Since it has been warm here, I decided to also cold steep a sachet and this was a good idea. I think I just discovered the tea I am going to be cold steeping the most come summertime. I find that cold steeping Oolong can get you a weaker cup than if you steep it normally, but the subtle flavors present are both very refreshing and sweet, and since this tea was already pretty sweet it is no surprise that it continues to be so. When cold steeped I found the floral notes to be more prominent, blending honeysuckle and lilac with undertones of sesame seeds and a touch of almonds. I think that I preferred the cold steep to hot, but it could have been I was really in the mood for something cold.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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