Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Eco-Cha: An Adventure in Roasted Oolongs

As spring starts to creep in, I find myself wanting to wander to greener pastures...errr....teas, so figured one big roasted Oolong adventure was in store! I mean I say that, but of course what I write about depends on what I get sent, however left to my own drinking habits (with the exception of hongcha and herbals) my tea consumption tends to reflect the seasons. So, let us look at three roasty toasty teas from Eco-Cha! One is from their tea club, which you can find here if you want to try them.

Gold Medal Award Jin Xuan High Mountain Tea

I know that when I think of Jin Xuan, usually I think of that delightfully sweet, milky and floral, green Oolong, and that is just unfair, because it is wonderful roasted! The aroma of the leaves is super nutty and sweet, like peanut brittle and honey sesame candy, sitting next to a bouquet of orchids and hyacinths! It is pretty low on the roast scale, so it still retains its floral notes, while also bringing in that wonderful roasted nuttiness that I love so much in my roasted Oolongs. I decided to gongfu this one, the taste is super sweet, notes of toasted peanuts, sesame honey candies, dried papaya fruit, honeysuckles, and hyacinth with a long lasting aftertaste of orchid. It is the perfect midpoint between roast and floral, so if you are having one of those days where you cannot decide which you want then go for this one, plus it lasts many steeps (as Oolongs tend to do) so it is a good tea to sit with as it evolves from more roasted to more floral over several steeps.

Ming Jian Farmer's Association Award Winning Oolong Tea

I could not find a link for this one, I am not sure they sell this tea or just used it as a add-on, since I could not locate any reference to it...it is a mysterious mystery. From the packaging I know it won an award, and from the first sniff I knew it was roasted, so going in a bit blind, but that can be fun. The aroma is sweet chestnut and roasted fruit wood, with a slight hint of stewed plums. It is a heavier roast than the previous tea, and I decided when I tasted this one that I was in the mood for grandpa steeping, been doing a lot of that lately since most my teaware is packed up and I have been too busy for gongfu, yes everyone may weep for my incredibly first world problem. This was a good idea, it was a sweet and roasty toasty treat (good since I drank it during one of the last winter storms) that tasted of roasted chestnuts, sweet plums and cherries, and a bit of a woody finish. It lasts a while being grandpa'd really going the distance and turning into an all day tea.

Dong Ding Oolong

Now we have gone into the heaviest of the roasts (I realize now I did it in roast order and that was not intentional!) and wooo is this one robust! Strong notes of roasted nuts like hazelnuts and walnuts with the distinct aroma of roasted nut shells, giving it a bit of a char quality. It also smells of toasted wheat bread and a bit of browned butter. Surprise, surprise, the taste is also robust, strong notes of roasted walnuts and hazelnuts, toasted heavy grain bread, toasted butter, and a long lasting charred nut shell finish. The first few sweets are fairly sweet, but later ones lose the sweetness for all roast and a touch of sharp tanginess. This could be a good tea to use to convert a coffee drinker, as it has a lot in common taste-wise (reminding me of a Sumatra if we are going to be specific) and is especially good for people who like their tea super roasted but without the strong smoke and char taste you can get. If you want more of a char taste, brew it hotter, I use 195F for my Oolongs, but if you use boiling you will get a rich dark red tea with a much stronger char taste, I like mine a little lighter and sweeter so go with a cooler temperature.

Tea sent for review.

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