I was beyond excited when I got my box of Simple Loose Leaf to try for $1! They were beyond generous in how much tea they sent; I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes at first. All three bags were bulging and hardly fit in my 100g containers when emptied into them.

Craving a nice oolong for weeks, the Formosa Oolong was my obvious first choice. I was a bit disappointed upon scooping out the tea to look at it. The leaves were very broken, dry, and brittle, with some dust reminiscent of Lipton. However, for a dollar, I wasn’t going to complain, especially without giving it a shot.

I’m rarely a fan of short steepings, so I decided to try this one at 3 minutes or so. I hadn’t unpacked my little yixing pot from college yet, so a roomy paper filter sufficed. A few minutes later, I sat down with my first steamy, piping hot cup of oolong in a long time…and my stomach sank a little on the first sip.

Note, I’m used to high-quality, full leaf oolongs with a great complexity of flavor. I shouldn’t have expected that out of this tea, even just by its appearance. I realized that I’d probably left the filter in the cup for a little too long, as it had become obnoxiously bitter and astringent like Lipton, the type that leaves the back of your throat dry. I gave up halfway through that cup.

Since then, I became more sensitive to this tea’s steeping needs, and have had much more luck with it. Right now, it’s my go-to nighttime tea, but that may be moreso so that I can finish it up. When steeped correctly, you definitely get some good grapeseed and tobacco flavors with a hint of dry woodiness that a more amateur palate would probably enjoy. This would be a great gateway darker oolong for those that want to give it a shot without “wasting” more complex ones on them.

Overall, price aside, I wouldn’t reorder this one at full price, or really any price above $1. I was happy with the Simple Loose Leaf experience, and had other good teas in the box, but this one definitely fell short.

Flavors: Grapes, Tobacco, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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