Continuing to work my way through the many samples I have accumulated since last year, I came to this Darjeeling oolong. Prior to this, I had only tried one Indian oolong, but it was from the state of Bihar rather than West Bengal. With that in mind, I opted to go ahead and try this tea. It was a blend of oolong leaf material from a number of different Darjeeling tea estates and was advertised as possessing grapefruit and floral flavors. I found it to be a citrusy, floral, and astringent tea blend possessing more in common with a second flush Darjeeling black tea than any sort of traditional oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 190 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of flowers, citrus, malt, and Muscatel. After the rinse, I began to detect impressions of roasted almond and brown toast. The first infusion produced a near identical bouquet. In the mouth, I immediately detected a surge of citrus flavors. Vahdam described it as being grapefruit-like, but I found it to more resemble a mixture of lemon zest, lime zest, and bitter orange. The rush of citrus was chased by gentle malt and Muscatel, as well as a blend of flowers. I found rose to be the dominant note on the back end, but there were also traces of dandelion, daisy, and marigold. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of straw, bruised mango, pear, brown sugar, herbs, kumquats, and minerals. A note of roasted almond also began to appear in the mouth. The later infusions were dominated by minerals, tart citrus, roasted almond, malt, and distant floral impressions. As noted above, the tea liquor was astringent, brisk, and biting throughout the session making this tea blend seem more like an unorthodox second flush black tea than any sort of true oolong.

In the end, I guess I have to be the outlier and state that I did not find this blend to be bad, but it also did not do a ton for me. For one thing, the citrus and floral aromas and flavors almost completely drowned out everything else. I had to work so hard to find other aromas and flavors that drinking this was a somewhat tedious experience. Oh, and did I mention that this blend was astringent? Yeah, I did. I actually mentioned that a couple times in the paragraphs above. Again, this was not bad, but to me, it did seem unbalanced with too much emphasis on citrus on the entry and flowers on the finish. It did not seem like there was enough between those two extremes. In the end, I could see this blend going over well with those who like really explosive, powerful flavors, but unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Herbs, Lemon Zest, Lime, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange, Pear, Rose, Rose, Straw, Straw

190 °F / 87 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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