This was one of four different gushu oolong orbs I purchased within the last year. I had been toying with the idea of doing a gushu oolong shootout, but ended up reviewing two of the three oolong orbs I purchased from What-Cha and then shelved the project. Within the past week, however, I got the urge to try at least one of the two remaining teas and chose this one purely because I wanted to try one from a different vendor. I didn’t expect to, but I ended up loving this tea.

I gongfued this one. After a quick rinse, I steeped the entire 6 gram dragon ball in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea ball produced pleasant aromas of stone fruits, smoke, wood, grass, hay, herbs, and brine. After the rinse, I began to pick up on scents of longan and wild mushroom. The first infusion produced a slightly more pronounced fruitiness, as well as something of a floral character on the nose. In the mouth, I picked up surprisingly strong, fully formed notes of hay, grass, wood, smoke, mushroom, herbs, and brine. Subsequent infusions brought out touches of bark, tart cherry, apricot, sour plum, nuts, caramel, butter, and minerals. I also thought I got touches of green apple and pear at a few points too. The longan flavor also finally showed up for me. Later infusions were dominated by minerals, grass, hay, funky brine, bark, and smoke balanced by pleasant caramel and butter tones. In the background, I could just barely detect lingering touches of stone fruits and wild mushrooms. The generally indistinct herbal presence also began to take on a more clearly developed camphor/menthol kind of flavor. Oddly, I do not recall finding any real floral notes in the mouth.

This was an interesting and surprisingly durable tea. It just did not want to give up the ghost. I’m guessing I could have easily gotten at least 1-3 more infusions out of this had I decided to push it. Much like the two Jingmai gushu oolongs from What-Cha, this demonstrated a funkiness similar to that of a young sheng. In other words, it was less like a traditional oolong and more like a cross between an oolong and a pu’erh. Unlike the two similar teas from What-Cha, this one had a better body and greater presence in the mouth, as well as greater longevity. I found it to be both a more approachable and more likable tea than the other two.

Flavors: Apricot, Bark, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Herbs, Menthol, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nuts, Pear, Plum, Smoke, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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