Open Door Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

85

6g, 600 ml Brita filtered water, cold brew Hario bottle overnight

Sometimes things blow you away due to how outstanding they are in their field. Other times, they’re impressive because of something completely unexpected. This tea goes in the latter category.

I ordered a few teas to try from Open Door Tea a few months ago, breaking my own rule of usually avoiding places that also sell weird or flavored blended teas (historically I have had terrible experiences with places that mainly focus on blends and only seem to dip their toes in to single varietals/cultivars) since I really wanted to try a 白毛猴 (white monkey green tea).

In the same order, I added a sample of the Hairy crab oolong, which they’d run out of, so this was substituted, to my dismay and disappointment. I grumbled about the silly name, about the blend itself (why would you blend 3 teas with disparate brewing temps? no matter what temperature you choose, it’s only going to be optimal for one and not the other 2), about how I wasn’t going to be able to try the Hairy crab oolong. Silly, I know. This is my outlet, let me be. In the end, knowing how bad I am with brewing green teas, I didn’t want to risk a standard brew of this, and gongfu and the time to dial in brews didn’t seem worth it so I tossed it into a Hario cold brew bottle and tried it in the morning. I was shocked at what I was tasting, and made a neighboring dormmate try it to assure that I wasn’t crazy about what I was tasting. This tastes wholly like a well-made (not overly sweet or too artificial) taro bubble/milk tea! Nothing like what I expected. I drink a fair amount of jasmine and oolong, but I’ve only tried tea bags of gunpowder green (some economics professor stocks the Numi kind in the lounge which has since been closed for COVID-related reasons), and they’re about as terrible as you’d expect. My dormmate noted hints of jasmine and oolong, in addition to the taro bubble tea, but I was only able to taste taro bubble tea, with a small hint of smoke, and a slightly sweet aftertaste.

In sum, understatedly delicious. Not something I’d drink on the daily, but I’ll definitely order some for those blazing hot summer days when you just want something cool and sweet. Not sure how this would be warm, but given how good it is cold brewed, probably won’t bother warm-brewing.

Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Taro Root

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 6 g 20 OZ / 600 ML

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70

4g, 130mL, gongfu gaiwan, brita water off the boil

Made this past midnight one night. Never mind the caffeine. Had an awful day and this was all I could think of wanting to do to alleviate mood. a bit of nose drip so probably didn’t catch everything.

Wet leaves smell of the standard slightly roasted smell, tiny bit of grassy and floral with a note of sweet smoke

Nice yellow to golden infusions

Initial quick steep was light and nice. Overdid the timing on the second, and along w light florals got a strong smokey bitter note that I was not a fan of. If you’ve ever had bitter steamed broccoli before (probably not on purpose, just by misfortune), it tastes exactly like that. Will admit that I had kiwi fruit just before starting this session so I’m not sure if there’s a sweet aftertaste or if it’s the kiwi still oops. Probably at least a bit can be attributed to the tea, but it’s definitely subtler, not very in your face. Later brews are pretty similar, probably shouldn’t have kept up with the water off the boil.

Though open Door Teas did say to use boiling water on the sample but on the site under 180, based on my personal oolong brewing experience, I would likely move that lower to about 195f-200f. At boiling, my brews were a touch more bitter than I would’ve preferred, even with gongfu controlling timing. I misplaced the remainder of my sample, so I won’t be able to redo, but if someone takes my recommendation, do let me know how you fare!

Been trying out some Taiwanese oolongs lately and after those, I do prefer Chinese for the most part. I like the little bite that the Chinese roasted oolongs have compared to the flatter (to me), more floral vegetal Taiwanese oolongs that I’ve tried so far.

That all being said, this is a relatively solid okay leaf quality with no frills oolong for anyone who likes or would like to try an oolong representative of the general category without breaking the bank to do so. would I personally keep a stash long term? Probably not since I like the sweetness (huigan if you want to be fancy I guess) in my oolongs to be a bit stronger and lighter bitter note, though preferences can change over time so we will see!

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Grass, Roasted, Smoke

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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80

130mL, 4g, brita water

Leaves dry: smell of a strong buttery green, peas, and with hints of floral and citrus. Overall nice pale yellow infusions.

Decided to keep brewing temps at 166 or below. Based on my own experiences with green teas, under extracted greens are okay, over extracted greens are far less so, and it is far easier to mess up greens than oolongs. Aside from cold brew prep, green teas I feel are decidedly more high maintenance (or as high maintenance as teas get) than oolongs that I can toss in a thermos and forget about until drinking.

5s: leaves smell roasted green, but also malty? Not unpleasant, but interesting. As expected, first cup not very strong. Pleasant light green.

15s: I’ve figured out the smell. It’s like Chinese chestnuts after they’re steamed, slightly sweet and nutty, but add a pinch of buttery roasted green tea and you’ve nailed this tea’s aroma. Very pleasant aftertaste.

40s: similar smell, with the chestnut note becoming even stronger. a little sharper, slightly bitter and dry finish-so tannins? Not bad, even refreshingly crisp and sweet aftertaste, but generally I prefer mellow flavors, so this right here is why I will never opt to steep a green tea for over 1-2 minutes unless it’s for cold brew.

Didn’t have time to continue this session unfortunately, but this was a fun tea! I don’t really like greens because they’re more high-maintenance/fussy and it’s harder to brew a good cup, but this is one I’d brew again if I was in the mood.

Flavors: Chestnut, Citrus, Floral, Green, Peas

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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