This was one of the 2017 oolong samples I ordered from Teabox in the second half of last year. At the time, I was making a concerted effort to try teas from the Indian states/regions that were less widely acclaimed for their tea production. Basically, I was snapping up teas from places like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Bihar. This particular tea was produced at one of Arunachal Pradesh’s more revered tea estates. Shortly before ordering this tea, I had tried a Donyi Polo black tea and loved it, so I was eager to see what one of the estate’s oolongs was like. I then put off trying it for no real reason, eventually working my way through it towards the end of last week. Honestly, I found it to be a mixed bag. I enjoyed the tea’s complexity, but found its texture unappealing while also being underwhelmed by its astringency and lack of longevity.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of wood, hay, coriander, toasted nuts, wheat, and cucumber. After the rinse, I found new aromas of lavender, lemon, grass, violet, and vanilla. The first infusion brought out malt, menthol, and fennel scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of wood, lavender, hay, wheat, grass, fennel, violet, and cucumber that were backed by impressions of toasted cashew, malt, and lemon. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of mandarin orange, dandelion, marigold, and field greens. Stronger lemon and malt notes appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging impressions of vanilla, coriander, and menthol. Entirely new notes of minerals, apricot, mandarin orange, marigold, dandelion, and field greens also appeared. As I ended my session, the tea liquor was still yielding very subtle mineral, dandelion, mandarin orange, malt, wood, and lemon notes that were underscored by fleeting hints of apricot, lavender, and violet.
This was a quirky, complex, and challenging tea with a highly unique and very appealing mix of aroma and flavor components, but it also yielded a good deal of astringency and harsh texture while fading quickly. Again, this tea was a mixed bag. It displayed very clear strengths while also displaying very clear weaknesses. Fortunately, I did enjoy a lot of what it had to offer (and to be fair, this tea had a lot to offer), finding its strengths to somewhat outweigh its weaknesses. In the end, I would be willing to give it a somewhat cautious recommendation to those interested in some of the teas from India’s less widely known centers of tea production.
Flavors: Apricot, Coriander, Cucumber, Dandelion, Fennel, Floral, Grass, Hay, Lavender, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, Wheat, Wood