Four New Oolongs Available Soon

The other day, Roy stopped by with four new oolongs - two from Taiwan and two from China. We tasted them all and they'll soon be available in the teahouse and our online store. To whet your appetite, here's a preview of coming attractions:

Bao Zhong is the least processed Taiwan oolong, meaning both the green and floral elements are potent in this beloved classic. The leaves are lightly rolled into the traditional “dragon” shape. We’re pleased to introduce our 2010 Winter Harvest Bao Zhong, which features vibrant green leaves, delightfully aromatic, tufted with bits of white fur that speak to high-mountain origins. Roy advises brewing this tea in a preheated gaiwan with 190-degree water. For best results, allow the infusion to cool substantially prior to drinking. When you do, you’ll discover a classic Bao Zhong with striking floral character, including the elusive underlying lilac note sought by connoisseurs. The brew offers a bright, fresh taste and rich, satisfying viscosity with robust golden color. A pleasure if you already love Bao Zhong or a great introduction to this famous tea for those eager to give it a try.

Don’t confuse Taiwan Mi Xiang (honey aroma) oolong with the variety by the same name from Guangdong’s Feng Huang Shan region. The Taiwan tea is tightly twisted and rolled into glossy nuggets, the sheen being the result of the tea’s succulent juices coating the leaves. For reasons no one fully understands, some years this tea develops extraordinary sweetness and a powerful honey tone; you’d swear someone stirred a dollop of honey into your cup. When the mysterious phenomenon emerged last fall, Roy scooped up a few kilos for the teahouse. The dry leaves smell sweet and pleasant, but the revelation comes when they’re infused in near-boiling water (the water must be very hot to penetrate the thick, tightly rolled leaves). For best results, allow the infusion to cool substantially prior to drinking. Then, tantalizing florals emerge to complement the honey flavor, as well as “green” notes distinctive to Taiwan oolongs. Our Mi Xiang Oolong hails from the renowned tea mountain A Li Shan and was hand-picked. An exotic treat for oolong lovers!

In China there’s a growing fondness for greener oolongs, and if you enjoy exploring these contemporary innovations we’re pleased to introduce our 2010 Organic Jade Oolong. Many Chinese green oolongs have been juiced with chemical fertilizers to produce an extra-green leaf and flavor. Not so with our organic specimen that Roy patiently sought out in Fujian Province, the epicenter of Chinese oolong production. While it doesn’t have the preternatural phosphorescent glow of its non-organic cousins, our tea features large, moderately rolled leaves with a wholesome bright green color and a potent fresh, slightly grassy/slightly floral aroma that recalls a spring stroll through a sun-warmed meadow. For best results with this tea, Roy advises brewing in a preheated gaiwan using 190-degree water, then allowing the infusion to cool two or three minutes prior to drinking. The brew is sweet and smooth, with intriguing floral notes you don’t find in lesser Chinese green oolongs, and a notable pleasant finish.

If you associate the great oolongs of Wu Yi Shan with the sooty charcoal taste of overfired standard-grade teas, our zheng yan Wild Tree Shui Xian will be a revelation. Carefully hand-harvested from large old trees that haven’t been cultivated on farms, the big, lightly rolled, “dragon” shaped leaves have indeed been charcoal-fired according to tradition, but only to the point of drying the leaves, concentrating their complex, powerful flavors, and slightly caramelizing their juice. The result is a fresh, crisp scent spiced with florals and balanced by undernotes of roasting that enhance but don’t overwhelm. Wild Tree Shui Xian may be brewed in a gaiwan or an yi xing teapot. Either way, use near-boiling water but let the infusion cool a bit before drinking to highlight the medley of interesting flavors: nutty, toasty, floral, and most exciting, the elusive, delicate, slightly vegetal qing tai wei that only emerges in properly oxidized leaves from old trees (it’s lost when the tea is overfired). If you love this exciting tea you’re not alone: it was last year’s winner in the Shui Xian Competition!