Many thanks to Tea Side for kindly providing this tea sample for me to try and review!
I made this one at work during a particularly quiet and calm afternoon when I knew that I could really take the time to fully immerse myself in the tea and experience. I often share what I’m brewing Gongfu with anyone who’s around in the lab, but I knew right away from the smell of the dry leaf that this was going to be a particularly interesting tasting oolong so I made a special point to let my coworkers know that I’d be brewing some aged oolong up in the afternoon and encouraged them all to come and experience the tea!
It’s always a really cool experience to try tea that’s as old or older than you are – and honestly I know that the first time most of us experienced that it was something that you got a little giddy about (or at least I’d like to think that was most of us and not just me), but I really do think that’s something a lot of people take for granted. How insanely cool is it that we have access to this amazing plant that in many cases continues to be delicious years and years after it’s been harvested!? That’s partly why I requested this tea; I just love aged teas and the whole idea around them. Another part was that this is from my birth year – and, with as many aged oolongs as I’ve had, I think this is actually the first that’s actually from the year I was born. I know, I know – I’m young…
5g/70ml and about ten steeps in total shared between myself and everyone else in the lab!! Dry leaf smells sweet; like taking a big inhale from a jar of dried apricots! After the rinse, the fragrance coming off the leaves is sweeter but more raisin heavy. Overall this was a very pleasant tea; the top of the steeps tended to have a fleeting sweetness, like the burst of juices from biting into the flesh of a white peach. The body of the sips are more drying and astringent; notes of cinnamon, allspice, & dried out wood/bark and sap. I didn’t personally experience any cocoa notes, but a couple coworkers said they tasted some sweet and light cocoa in the middle of some of the infusions.
There was one steep in the middle of the tea session that was a little rough in it’s dryness, but I slightly backed off my steep time and it was resolved. The finish transitions back into more of that sweetness that was coming off the rinsed leaf aroma – cooked down stonefruit syrup and the sweet raisins that come in those little red boxes (very nostalgic)! This was such a lovely experience, and because Tea Side was so generous with their sample it’s one that I’ll be able to have again!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHOGHkiFmfU