After taking a day off from writing reviews, I decided to get back on track this morning with a new oolong. Yesterday, I finally finished the last of the Silver Buds Yabao from Verdant and the Margaret’s Hope First Flush Darjeeling from Tealyra. Both were teas I really enjoyed, but neither were the sort of tea to which I would be in any rush to go back. I needed to try something a little different. Enter Tealyra’s Dong Fang Mei Ren Formosa Oolong.
First, allow me to state that I have virtually no familiarity with this particular type of oolong. My experience with Formosa oolongs is limited to baozhongs and rolled oolongs. Second, I had actually tried this one before. I did a short gongfu session with this tea back in the middle of September. I recalled liking it to a degree, but did not remember any specifics.
For the purposes of this review, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water. I followed this infusion with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 35 seconds, and 2 minutes. Please note that if this method seems strange, it does so for a reason-I made it up as I went along. I could not find much consensus about how to prepare this tea gongfu online, so I just tried to push it as hard as I could.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted a wonderful aroma. It reminded me of a combination of peach, white grape, and honey. After the rinse, the aroma changed slightly. The honey, peach, and grape scents intensified, but they were joined by a melange of flowers and citrus. The first infusion produced an almost identical aroma. In the mouth, I noted a pleasant mixture of peach and honey underscored by flowers and white grape. The next three infusions produced a somewhat more intense citrus and floral quality on the nose and in the mouth. I began to note distinct plum, lime, date, mandarin orange, magnolia, and lily tones on the palate. Subsequent infusions were more balanced, producing well-integrated floral, fruity aromas and flavors with a hint of minerality. The last three infusions were extremely light both on the nose and in the mouth. The mineral notes were more pronounced, though I could still detect fleeting impressions of flowers, peach, and citrus in the background. Though the tea was not quite flat at that point, I ended the session after the eleventh infusion as I doubted the tea had much more to offer.
Immediately after I ended the session, I was not quite sure what to make of this tea, and really, I’m still not. I enjoyed the way the intense peach and honey aromas and flavors mingled with the floral and citrus tones. To me, this gave the tea an elegant, exotic quality that is hard for me to accurately describe. Still, I think I prefer the Formosa oolongs with which I am more familiar. Just to be clear though, I do think this is a good oolong. In this instance, I think it admirably served its purpose as an introduction to oolongs of this type. I could see it doing the same for others, though I also do not doubt that those who are more familiar with this style may still enjoy this one.
Flavors: Dates, Floral, Honey, Lime, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Plum, White Grapes