This is a lightly oxidized oolong, closer to green than black, with dark-green leaves curled into fairly tiny balls – not quite the tightly compressed balls of some teas that are sold as “pearls” but quite curled and looking a bit like dark pebbles. Because they’re tightly curled, you will want to use an infuser large enough to give them room to expand. There’s not much of an aroma from the dried leaves – a faint greenish smell, but not the sort of thing that has you just standing there sniffing the leaves and forgetting to brew it. (Jasmine teas have that effect on me, for one.)
Once brewed – I use 190 degree F water, and steep for about 2 minutes – the tea has at first a slightly herb-y note, and a smooth green taste. But then an unusual thing happens: as the tea cools down, a floral note arises; by the time it reaches room temperature, the floral aroma and floral taste of this tea are quite distinctive. I found that it reminded me slightly of jasmine.
I tried the tea iced, and while the iced tea did not have much aroma – iced tea rarely has the aromas that the steam rising from hot tea carries – it still had a floral taste to it. Likewise, I tried second steepings of the tea, both as hot tea and as iced tea, and the second steepings had a strong floral note right from the get-go. Since that floral note holds up so well as the tea cools, I suspect that I will enjoy this as summer iced tea all summer long, since I really like jasmine tea as iced tea, and this heady floral note is similar.
I personally don’t usually use sweetener in unflavored teas, and I always find oolong teas smooth enough to not need sweetener anyway, but if you prefer your tea sweetened, adding a little sugar or honey to this one would work well. Artificial sweeteners, most of which have flavor notes of their own (metallic and bitter are two of the words often used to describe artificial sweetener notes) would not complement this tea at all.
Naivetea describes this tea as:
Distinctive mountain essence, fresh flower and evergreen notes, lingering refined sweetness.
Mouth Feel: Soft with light, smooth body
Aroma: Delicate, fresh, floral
Ingredients: Ching Shin Oolong
Oxidation/Fermentation: LightOrigin: Da Yu Ling, in one of the highest elevation tea farming areas of Central Taiwan
Elevation: 2,300 meters/7,545 feet
Although as I write this, in late fall, most people aren’t thinking of iced tea, I am thinking of it, and thinking how much I will enjoy more of this oolong as my iced tea of choice next summer.