The cloudy and chilly weather this morning combined with a trying work day yesterday called me to a gongfu session with this oxidized and roasted red oolong. It has the aroma and flavor of sweet recuperation. Much needed.

This Spring 2018 harvest Hong Shui, like many other red oolong, is high on the aroma factor. When dry, I smell brown toast, rye, raisin, cinnamon, pear, golden syrup, pecan, straw, dried fruit. Warming the leaf brings cedar, cacao and plums. A rinse bring some strange things like sweet pickled vegetables, dill, roasted tomatoes and carrots, perfume, vinyl, raisins and blueberry.

Its character is lightly toasty and musky with cinnamon-pear sweetness and mellow nuttiness. Raisin, floral grape and minerals provide support. As the tea develops thicker, stronger flavors, I also pick up on something a bit like rancid butter but that could be due to sinus issues. The complexity lies more in aromas than it does in the actual flavors. A little drying and a brown sugar returning sweetness.

This is a tea that I think might captivate tea drinkers looking to explore the oxidized/roasted Taiwanese balled oolong. I would recommend it as a western brew. When prepared that way, the long steep time allows the full thickness and sweetness to shine.

Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Butter, Cacao, Carrot, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cream, Dill, Dried Fruit, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Fur, Grapes, Mineral, Nutty, Pear, Pecan, Perfume, Plum, Raisins, Rye, Stewed Fruits, Straw, Sweet, Vegetables, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Eventual tea farmer. If you are a tea grower, want to grow your own plants or are simply curious, please follow me so we can chat.

I most enjoy loose-leaf, unflavored teas and tisanes. Teabags have their place. Some of my favorite teas have a profound effect on mind and body rather than having a specific flavor profile. Terpene fiend.

Favorite teas generally come from China (all provinces), Taiwan, India (Nilgiri and Manipur). Frequently enjoyed though less sipped are teas from Japan, Nepal and Darjeeling. While I’m not actively on the hunt, a goal of mine is to try tea from every country that makes it available to the North American market. This is to gain a vague understanding of how Camellia sinensis performs in different climates. I realize that borders are arbitrary and some countries are huge with many climates and tea-growing regions.

I’m convinced European countries make the best herbal teas.

Personal Rating Scale:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s pu’er, I likely think it needs more age.

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