Friday, October 9, 2015

Mountain Tea's Amber Oolong

Mountain Tea's Description
Why roast tea? A masterful roast imparts complexity to already quality leaf. The general rule of thumb is that firing enhances flavor rather than adding it. Amber Oolong is a friendly introduction into the world of roasted oolong.

My thoughts
This is a medium roasted oolong of the Jin Xuan variety. Jin Xuan oolongs are always good, but roasting them can bring them to a whole new level. Case in point, this beauty grown by Mountain Tea in the Wushe Mountains in Nantou, Taiwan. This was just one of those teas that I knew I would like even before I ever tried it.

Dry leaf - The leaves are rolled in the standard Taiwanese way. The aroma is reminiscent of a bakery: wheat, sugar, baking spices, it's a wonderful smell. I'm not sure if I get the bananas as Mountain Tea describes, but it's a great aroma nonetheless. There is very little of the smoky/roasty aroma that many roasted oolongs have, which tells me that this tea has had enough time to mellow out since it was last roasted. Also a plus.

Brewing parameters - 200F, 60s first, +15s after. Also a great candidate for gongfu style.

Tasting notes - Brown sugar, toasted wheat, nutmeg, toffee, overripe peaches, caramel, rum, pecans

The aroma of the dry leaves intensified by a million as soon as the water hit the leaves. The entire room smells of a dessert bakery. It reminds me a lot of monkey bread or pecan pie. There are not many teas that can make me hungry, but this is one of them. It just smells so delicious! The first sip brings about notes of brown sugar, toffee, and toasted wheat, which quickly changes into caramel, then very juicy overripe peaches, then to spiced rum finish. This tea has a lot going on, it's almost difficult to keep track of it all. Again, there is very little of the roasted taste I expected initially.

Steeps 2-4 mellowed out somewhat, the fruity aspect becoming more prominent while the toffee and rum components becoming less. There is just a hint of roasted pecans showing its face through the sugary and spicy fusion. It's more refined than the initial steep, but no less delicious.

Steeps 5-8 are dominated by the toasted wheat attribute, quickly followed by mild peaches and caramel. The sweetness has subdued, but it's still a wonderful brew.

In the interest of full disclosure, I made this for a friend a couple weeks ago, and she said it smelled like bong water. I'm not a stoner myself, so I wouldn't know (I still think it smells like pecan pie), but some of you might agree. For what it's worth, she did love the tea itself, despite her thoughts on the aroma.

If you're looking for a dessert tea that isn't chocolatey in any way, look no further than this one. It's certainly unique in the fact that it's like a bakery in liquid form. I've had no other teas that can claim that attribute.

You can buy this tea directly from Mountain Tea here, and also from What-Cha here.

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