Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What-Cha: Vietnam 'Red Buffalo' Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

My mom is kinda awesome, ok she is really awesome, but today she decided to give me a present. She texted me several pictures of mushrooms she could not properly ID while visiting my grandparents in South Carolina, turns out all that flooding and rain inevitably brought in the mushrooms. For all that we have had a wet summer and somewhat wet early autumn in Missouri, I have only found a few mushrooms...though while out and about I have seen some growing on trees and in people's yards, but I have learned that yelling to stop so I can leap out of the car to examine them is not very appreciated by whomever is driving, alas. Sadly IDing from a photo is hard, I was able to probably ID the Russula (either as emetica or paludosa, can't be 100% sure) but there is one that looks like an Amanita but I just can't place it, it is maddening and I am having a blast trying to figure out the puzzle with the few clues I have.
From Hatvala 

I believe it is Wednesday today, I admit, Monday being a holiday made me confused, tossed my schedule right out the door, it is a little embarrassing how much I rely on mail running to let me know what day it is. Since it is Wednesday, it is time to carry on with the tradition of What-Cha Wednsday, a tradition I have been carrying on with for over a year now, and I am still nowhere close to reviewing all of the What-Cha teas! I still want their logo as a t-shirt, just sayin' it is so cool! Today we are taking a look at Vietnam 'Red Buffalo' Oolong Tea an Oolong tea from the Son La Province of Vietnam. Sourced by Hatvala, whose mission it is to raise awareness of Vietnamese tea, something I can get behind because I have not had a tea from Vietnam I disliked, even the super cheap Lotus Green I bought at a Vietnamese grocer. This is a heavily oxidized Oolong, almost to the point of a black tea, but still having a floral oolong quality. It is made using the Qingxin cultivar on a small farm at 1000m above sea level.

The tightly curled leaves are definitely dark, with shades of amber and red peaking through the mostly very dark brown. The aroma is pretty true to the description, blending a darker Oolong with a greener one, It starts out with notes of nutty toasted sesame seeds and chestnuts, sweet marzipan, and honey. Then it moves to floral notes, one note in particular stands out, and to me it smells like the honey sweet nectar of the tulip tree (Poplar) which brings back very fond memories. As a kid I would race the squirrels and ants for the fallen blossoms, when I got my hands on them I would lick the sugary sweet nectar out, yeah, I was a wild woodlands child.

In the gaiwan, the aroma of first steep and slightly opened up leaves is pretty intense, strong notes of flowers and gentle spice, like tulip tree, spicebush, orchids, honeysuckles...honestly this reminds me a bit of a Dancong with its headiness. After that initial burst of flowers there is a bit of creamy sesame seeds and honey. The liquid is very sweet, creamy and flowery with notes of honey, tulip tree, and honey locust. Wow, this the the tea of tree flowers!

The first steep is pale, surprisingly so, it starts with a gentle honey sweetness, a touch of sesame seeds, and then honey locust. Huh, I honestly have never tasted that outside of honey locust pods, that I find immensely fascinating. This sweetness fades to a gentle spiciness that is reminiscent of spicebush and distant flowers, which lingers in the aftertaste.

For the second steep, the aroma is honey and flowers, honeysuckles, honey locust, and tulip trees, it is very sweet. The texture is smooth, a bit silky, the taste is a sugary sweet explosion! It is like my mouth just filled with warm honey, honey locust, scuppernongs, and tea blossoms. The sweetness lingers for quite a while afterwards.

Third steeping's aroma is still so sweet, loads of flowery goodness and honey sweetness, honey locust and tulip trees are blooming in my cup. This tea does not really change, and it is not super varied in its taste, and you know, that is totally ok because it is super sweet. Who needs dessert when you have liquid honey and honey locust pulp, it is like wild nectar and flowers. For all that this is a dark Oolong, it is not smoky or roasted at all, so no need to be afraid of that.

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