This was the final tea in the sampler provided to me by the folks at Totem Tea. Of the bunch, I would have to say that it was my favorite despite the fact that were was not weak link in the group. Though I have not had a ton of Oriental Beauty oolongs, I do enjoy them, and as of this posting, this is by far the best I have ever had. This was a deep, rich, complex, and absolutely gorgeous tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, baked bread, and malt. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, rose, violet, candied orange, and spices. The first infusion introduced stronger rose, candied orange, and violet aromas as well as a subtle scent of honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, baked bread, roasted almond, candied orange, violet, and rose that were chased by subtle honey notes. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn even more intensely floral as well as a bit nuttier and spicier. Definite impressions of cinnamon and nutmeg emerged in the mouth alongside new notes of orange blossom, cantaloupe, honeysuckle, apple, pear, honeydew, and minerals. Very subtle hints of cedar and pine appeared as well, and I could also detect hints of peach and licorice in a few places. The final infusions presented lingering notes of minerals, cantaloupe, honeydew, roasted almond, pear, rose, and orange blossom that were supported by a subtle maltiness.

I am used to teas of this type that beat me over the head with stone fruit, honey, and roasted almond notes, so coming across one that overwhelmed me with impressions of flowers, melons, orchard fruits, and spices was a real treat for me. If you have yet to find an Oriental Beauty that does it for you, check this one out. It is well worth it.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Bread, Cantaloupe, Cedar, Cinnamon, Honey, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Licorice, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Orange Blossom, Peach, Pear, Pine, Rose, Violet

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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