History, Loose Tea, Tea, Tea rooms

Aged Oolong

I attended an educational Zoom event last Tuesday evening provided by Tea Time Magazine and renowned tea historian, Bruce Richardson from Elmwood Inn Fine Teas in Kentucky. Although they touted this event as a “virtual tasting” and it was gently suggested you purchase 3 teas from Elmwood Inn to use during the event, there was no actual tasting on their end, nor did they spend a great deal of time discussing the very specific varieties one purchased. They claimed they did not have the time to brew and taste three teas during the event.

The lovely envelope the tea packets arrived in

I had attended a virtual tea tasting from our local Dobrà Tea in Portland, Maine earlier this spring and they actually brewed, and tasted the SIX teas we purchased to brew along with them. I found that to be a true tea tasting event and it was very well done.

That being said, I found the Tea Time Magazine event to be informative and I enjoyed hearing the extensive tea knowledge that Bruce has and his journeys throughout the world in his search for the perfect blends.

A great deal of the time was spent on Green tea as well as the many ways tea is distinguished by the season and locations the tea leaves are picked, and the way they are processed. Time was spent on how tea flavor changes with multiple steeps, something I have only done with oolong teas.

I was disappointed by the very short amount of time spent on black teas at the very end, which are my favorite. I’m far more fascinated by the depth of character and flavors in black, fully-oxidized teas than I am with the weaker, subtle flavors of green and white teas. If I owned a tea room, there would be more black teas than green teas for sure. Perhaps I’d call it The Malty Tea Shop so one would know going in what they’re going to get. 🙂

I am not a fan of green tea, so I haven’t even opened the packet purchased, but I have tried the oolong and the black tea. I can’t say either impressed me. However, upon asking what type of tea Bruce recommend for a smokey oolong, he recommended a 2005 aged oolong, which I promptly purchased.

I enjoyed this wonderful brew with my kitty on a cloudy morning

Now THIS is a tea I can wrap my hands around. Aged Oolong refers to Oolong tea that has been stored for at least 3 years. These rare teas are generally full-bodied, rich, and have a well-rounded taste. This is a tea from Taiwan. I’m finding I prefer teas from China over Japan because they roast many of their teas….hence the full-bodied taste, no doubt.

Here is what I found in my tasting with the Aged Oolong:

  • The 1st steep (90 secs @ 185º) had a pinkish color and a rich, smokey taste. I enjoyed it’s immediate smokey flavor.
  • The 2nd steep (2 mins @ 185º) had a richer orange color and the flavor was more intense. More in line with my tastes with a stout and malty flavor.
  • The 3rd steep (2 mins @ 185º) was back to a brown-pink shade and the flavor changed dramatically with a more subtle smokiness. The least favorite of the three steeps, but still very nice.

Oolongs can have a combination of green teas as well, so perhaps that’s why I didn’t care for the blend sent for the tea tasting. And yes, I DO know how to brew a cup of green tea with lower water temps and less steeping time. I’m still not a fan. Give me a smokey oolong, pu erh, Lapsang souchong, or a Russian caravan tea any day.

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