Imperial Formosa

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Oolong Tea
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195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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43 Tasting Notes View all

  • “This is the first time I can remember that the flavors described on a tea have represented almost perfectly the flavors that I get when I sip it. I know that the gap between what’s suggested and...” Read full tasting note
  • “Sipdown no. 57 for the year 2014 and also the end of revisiting the handful of Golden Moon samples I couldn’t decide about the first time through. I will say that although this sample was tiny...” Read full tasting note
  • “Golden Moon Sampler Tea #30 Almost at the end of my Golden Moon sampler! Basically took the entire month to go through it. Which is a pretty good pace, I think. My mom called right after I set...” Read full tasting note
  • “I’m afraid that I may have prepared this horribly wrong. My sample was the tiniest sample I’ve ever seen. I don’t have a scale, so try to picture the length and width of 4 toothpicks laying...” Read full tasting note

From Golden Moon Tea

Rare. Exotic. A Reward For The Curious and Adventurous.
Mood: Introspective, scholarly
Time: Anytime – in the study or garden courtyard
Cuisine: Fruit, chocolate, or mild cakes and cookies.
Price Per Cup: .31+
Caffeine: Low

Rarely – maybe once a generation – will a tea blend come along with flavors so rich and pure. Close your eyes. Concentrate. You’ll note the subtle wash of dates, chestnuts, cedar, and orange blossoms. It’s a constant reward for those willing to give it a chance.

The fanciest silver-tipped leaves provide a remarkable durable blend good for many infusions without a loss of flavor. It’s a fine value if you’re willing to step out on the skinny end of the branch and reap the awards of risk. Why not add it to your cart today?

About Golden Moon Tea View company

Golden Moon is dedicated to offering outstanding, whole-leaf teas of the greatest quality and finesse. All Golden Moon Teas are hand-plucked and meticulously crafted to enhance leaf character, aroma, color, clarity, body, complexity, and above all, flavor.

43 Tasting Notes

158 tasting notes

This is the first time I can remember that the flavors described on a tea have represented almost perfectly the flavors that I get when I sip it. I know that the gap between what’s suggested and what I sense comes, probably most of the time, from my uneducated palate…and let’s face it, I love, love, love spicy food, and am pretty unwilling to give it up to create a palate that’s fine-tuned, the way food tasters do.

I haven’t had even a moment’s trouble with this one. Everything they describe is there. The hardest thing for me to locate was the orange blossom, but it IS there…and that much to my delight; having lived in Florida (and even spent some time in working groves, long story), that smell is among my favorites of all time. I had some guacamole earlier, and I suspect that the garlic and onion in the guac sort of battered my taste buds, and that the floral note would be easier to pick out than the nutty note (rather than vice versa) had I not been snacking a little while ago.

The more oolong I have, the more I love it. So many flavors. So full-bodied. This one is pretty tasty.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Actually drinking this right now, sounds like it will be delicious.


Can’t wait to have it. I’ve been holding off on this because I don’t know what to expect.

Robert Godden

I had a se chung oolong yesterday, but was little disappointed. About to write it up. This one sounds great


It is great! And it was even good when I finished off the cooled last legs of the cup, after getting caught up with some stuff for a bit and coming back to it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I hope you like it, Cinoi and Ricky!


I really liked this one as well! There was such a yummy, peach and date flavor to it, with nice floral notes. The tasting notes here are really great, and if I knew orange blossom a bit more, I’m sure I’d be able to pick it out!

Hopefully the more oolong I have, the more a fan of it I’ll become. Don’t make the other oolong in the sampler with boiling water! I learned that the hard way.


Thanks for the heads-up about that. I had forgotten about your oolong incident…I’ll probably have it tonight, so I’ll be sure to turn the Zojirushi down.

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2036 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 57 for the year 2014 and also the end of revisiting the handful of Golden Moon samples I couldn’t decide about the first time through.

I will say that although this sample was tiny (about 1.5g) it was very aromatic in the sample packet. Having spent some time away from oolongs, I was really liking what I smelled. A lot of chestnuts and cedar, and yes, I could smell the dates and the orange blossoms, too. Sometimes being away can really refresh your senses. I rinsed the leaves and went for a first steep.

The aroma is very toasty and I definitely get chestnuts this time (I steeped longer-4 minutes for the first steep). There’s a sweet fruitiness that I’m ready to call dates. Both the chestnut and the date come through in the flavor, and around the edges and in the finish, I understand the claim to cedar. There’s also something like stonefruit.

The flavor is not as deep and round as I expected. I recall some other dark oolongs I’ve tasted as having that quality. But I think it’s better than I judged it to be the first time around when I had tea fatigue.

Second steep. I went longer this time 5 minutes. More chestnut, and a mellower, sweeter fruity taste.

Third steep. 5:30. It continues to mellow and get a little rounder in flavor.

The wet leaves have a smell I’d describe as green coffee beans.

My main issue right now is that I have a lot of oolong in my stash, more than any sane person should have, really. And because it is the sort of thing that I like to take my time with, steep multiple times, savor, etc. it tends to get drunk less than blacks, greens, whites and herbals. (The only thing that gets drunk less is pu-erh and that’s basically for the same reason.) I need to drink some of my other oolongs and see how they stack up.

I’m going to go ahead and put this on the shopping list. It’s a safe decision, both because I’m on lockdown and because even if I wasn’t, I have too much oolong and too much other Golden Moon tea to justify ordering more of this any time soon. (Don’t you love this public self-talk thing? LOL)

Bumping the rating a tad because I liked how the taste and the description on the label matched up.
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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382 tasting notes

Golden Moon Sampler Tea #30
Almost at the end of my Golden Moon sampler! Basically took the entire month to go through it. Which is a pretty good pace, I think.

My mom called right after I set this to steep so it was probably steeping for waaaaay too long, but I don’t think, wonder of wonders, that it did any harm! I have so far been pretty unimpressed with the Golden Moon Oolongs although that may be more of a problem with me than with the teas, but this, THIS is what I think of when I think Oolong. Although very light in color, it has a bold, nutty flavor and a light hint of smokiness and an overall impression of toasted rice. Delicious!

I don’t get much in the way of dates. On the other hand, I don’t eat a hell of a lot of dates, so that is not too surprising. There IS a fruitiness about it though, especially in the aftertaste. There’s a slight acridity which I think comes from the oversteeping, but all in all this is DAMN tasty.

I’m gonna be making a trip to the land of iced oolong in June, so I’m not sure that I want to order more of this since Japan has historically left me feeling a bit oolonged out, but if I WERE going to get Oolong, this would be it.

Edit: Oh wow, I didn’t notice but apparently I hit 100 tasting notes 2 notes ago! Am I spending too much time on tea? (No.)

195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more

Congrats on your 100th! I’ve enjoyed them! My 200th is coming up, and I’m trying to think of a celebratory tea for it.


I second the congrats! :D


Happy 102th then! Sorry it’s belated haha ;)

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176 tasting notes

I’m afraid that I may have prepared this horribly wrong. My sample was the tiniest sample I’ve ever seen. I don’t have a scale, so try to picture the length and width of 4 toothpicks laying together. That is how much tea my sample contained. I’m really disappointed; this only made half a mug of tea, but I’m still afraid that this is going to be really diluted.

Ooh, I taste the orange blossoms. Most people here had a little difficulty tasting them, but for me, that’s the first thing that hits me right away. This is a nice, light woody and nutty oolong. The orange blossoms give it dimension and the perfect hint of sweetness. I’m still afraid that I’m not getting the full experience because of how tiny my sample was, but this doesn’t taste bad. I’m assuming that a more concentrated cup would only be better.


I found that all of the GM samples were too small to make a decent sized mug. ;{


An infant couldn’t have reached their tiny fingers into a bag and pulled out less tea than I received in this sample. Bummer.


Erin – Your comment made me crack up at my desk. Tiny samples that do not even make one cup are not cool at all. Bummer indeed.


That’s really strange! I was puzzled by how large my sample of this tea was, so clearly GM doesn’t have a consistent measure for their sample packs :(


I, too, had a very small sample!

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1112 tasting notes

I must preface this tasting note by saying that I am forever spoiled by the Oriental Beauty I had at Radiance, and I hold all teas of this type up to that one.

That being said – this tastes good but very average to me. I’m getting woody/nutty but very little sweetness.

2nd steep: The beginning of some sweeter floral notes. I do prefer this steep compared to the first one.

3rd steep: a little weaker, but ok.

Certainly not a bad tea, but it lacks the amazing deliciousness and honeyed, flowery pizazz of the One True Oriental Beauty of Radiance Tea Room. This one does not rate a tin for me..


This was my first tea made with my new Breville variable temperature kettle! I set it to French Press (200 degrees) and let it do it’s thing. It is able to hold water temperature so I didn’t have to go crazy reboiling ad nauseam. It was very easy to use (especially since my coworkers broke it in when I was at school yesterday (!!!). I love it!

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Congrats on the Breville variable temp kettle – something I’ve recently been made aware of via steepster! May it give you years of tea pleasure!


Lauren – thank you! I do hope so :) It’s so functional that I almost want to get one for home (but I will refrain until my olde kettle springs a leak – it’s over a decade old and still whistling!!!)


Yes – my work hot pot started leaking out the bottom and my coat pocket ripped! It is true – not a dream (nightmare!!) I mended the coat but I am no electrician for the hot pot!


Oh, something that works and works so well! Didn’t I read somewhere where things were falling apart on you recently or was I dreaming it? I read some posts late into the night yesterday …! I just had a vision of a freckled 10 year old sitting on a rock fishing and whistling, I think lack of sleep is affecting me now!


Woahhh, you bought it! Congrats!

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243 tasting notes

Second Infusion: Resteeped the sample packet, added 1/2 teaspoon of Rock Sugar, steeped longer (7 minutes). Might have over steeped it here or it might just be because it is the second infusion, but lost much of the undertone flavors from previous brews. The orange blossom is mostly gone, I have completely lost the chestnut and date flavors and even less of a hint of cedar at the end. However, this is still a very good oolong, just now it is very plain.

No complaints, just saying is all.

7 min, 0 sec
Harney & Sons The Store

Sometimes I recommend doing the second infusion for a shorter period of time when it comes to Oolongs. Generally speaking, the first infusion is more to open the leaves, beginning moistening them so that the flavors they hide will be more accessible in the following brews. With a Formosa Oolong I generally steep it like this : 4mins, 2mins, 2.5 mins, 3 mins, 3.25 mins etc.

The theory behind that is that oversteeping the second rinse will release too much caffeine and theanine, masking any subtleties you may have originally found. Also, as you continue to steep the tea, it takes more and more to release the flavors, thus the later steeps require more time. I really wish these chat boxes were bigger so reviewing my text would be easier…


I think I brewed my first cup of this for 4 minutes and my second for 5 1/2, or something, and it was still quite good. I was tempted to try to resteep this morning because it was so tasty, but resteeping leaves that have been wet all night still freaks me out a little.

That’s a nice recommendation on the oolongs, too. I’ll have to try that with some of my favorite ones. (Also, what the heck do we call you, H&STS? Your staff uses this to write tasting notes, right? You’re like some kind of hive mind account! I feel like I should be referring to you awkwardly in the plural, or something.)


@H&STS – I will keep that in mind with resteeping oolong. I usually do not have any issues resteeping and I usually find that I need to go longer because the flavors I was looking for were all in the initial steep. Next time I will definitely steep less with an oolong. And yes, the boxes should be bigger :)


@sophistre – I couldn’t agree more, the teas last night were delicious, but steeping leaves that I used last night creeps me out.

Harney & Sons The Store

Haha.. hive mind! My name’s Emeric, I’m actually a 3rd generation Harney. I Steepster it up during the evenings sometimes, but during the day my employees use the account to put up tasting notes on what we call “teas of the moment” :)

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6768 tasting notes

Nutty taste, indeed, but it’s delicate yet fairly bold…if that makes sense!!! :)


Added a few points on to the rating…

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2201 tasting notes

In my new quest to try a bunch of different kinds of oolongs and discover the joys of unflavored varieties, I ordered this Imperial Formosa to try. It may just be the first of its kind that I’ve tried; I don’t have a lot of background in these things. I have to say, the dry leaf smells pretty different from all the other oolongs I’ve tried so far, though I haven’t tried many dark ones yet. It’s very woodsy, and has an aroma that is familiar to me but that I can’t place right now. The directions say to steep for five minutes, which I’m a little worried about (I don’t steep anything but herbals and rooibos for five minutes), but I did it anyway.

Steeped, the aroma is much more familiar as an oolong, albeit definitely a dark one with a rich, almost black-tea type aroma and maybe a hint of a floral note. Honestly, based on the smell of the dry leaf I didn’t expect to like this tea very much, but I am enjoying it. It doesn’t blow me away, but a nice cup. It’s a bit roasty, a bit nutty, the slightest bit vegetal, with a tiny floral note at the end. I feel like that slightly sweet note that oolongs often have is lurking in there, but hasn’t been let out. Tasty, but I prefer oolongs with a bit more florals.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

I really love Oolongs and am annoyed that I’ve run out. I plan on trying the Golden Moon company after school starts and I get some of my expenses out of the way.


They definitely have some tasty ones, and it’s nice that you can order a sample to try first.

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187 tasting notes

Here we go with my first dark oolong!

First Infusion

Well, I was badly burned by my last oolong and my temperature problems. I have a little bit more of the Orchid Temple that I scortched, but I wanted to try something different. So I pulled out Imperial Formosa, the darker oolong of the two in the Golden Moon sampler.

I opened the little packet, and inhaled. Hrm. Interesting! The smells are not unlike black tea, but it’s lighter. I’m getting somewhat roasted notes, but there’s a sweetness underlying it.

I was more careful with temperature this time around, so I shot for 190 but ended up somewhere closer to 185. Can I talk for a second about how pretty oolongs are? Of course I can. This is my review. The leaves are a gorgeous chestnut brown, twisted and accented with silvery bits. Very, very pretty.

So I tossed a very heaping tsp into my pot, and steeped this one up. Oolongs are so pretty in the pot. This one slowly, slowly unfurled, and the water began to change color at a snail’s pace. Many of the leaves were sort of like in suspended animation; neither floating to the top of the pot, nor lingering at the bottom. Just hovering on invisible jet packs. Very pretty and cute.

When it came time for the pour, I was actually getting quite excited. The wet leaves here smell fruity-roasty now, and the light amber infusion… okay, it’s mouth-watering. There’s only the faintest hint of smoke, but beyond that, I’m getting buttery fruits. Something akin to apricots and peaches, with some date notes.

So I took the first sip and… oolong success! This one is complex and yummy and there’s something for each part of my mouth. The brunt of the flavor is fruity goodness. The stonefruit flavor really comes on strong and sweet, with a high nectar-like note. Surprisingly, there’s somewhat of a mouthfeel here, that evokes those little fruit cups filled with peaches that I used to eat when I was a kid. Sort of like drinking the liquid left behind (which was always the best part, to me).

The roasty notes are very light, and if I suck the infusion in at high speeds ala wine tasting, I get a hint of a cedar-like feeling from the roastiness. I can’t find the orange blossom in here, but I think I understand the chestnut tasting note listed by Golden Moon. It’s sort of the lingering sweetness left on my tongue, that’s savory-sweet similar to the feeling left by chestnuts. It’s not really the taste of chestnuts, but the tastes associated with chestnuts. If that makes any sense at all.

The only complaint I have is that there really is a lot of astringency here. It’s associated with sweet flavors, which is awesome, but after several sips in a row, my tongue sort of feels stuck to the roof of my mouth.

I’m really loving this one. If it can hold up to multiple steeps, we might just have a winner on our hands. I’ll probably rate this one high anyway, just because the first steep is really very delicious!

My mom tasted this, and she went, “Ooh, this is delicious! Fruity!” So there is approval on multiple levels here!

Yay for good oolong experiences!

Second Steep (5:00, 185)

The second steep came out a teeny bit darker than the first and the infusion didn’t smell as wonderful. Not that is smells bad, it just doesn’t really have as strong and delicious of a fragrance. There are some roasty notes mixed with the faintest wiff of fruit, but it’s not anything to get excited about.

The taste this time is definitely weaker than before, and definitely skewed towards a general sweet taste instead of a taste coming from any sort of fruit-related yummyness. The roasty taste is somewhat mesquite and interesting, but it’s not very strong. I’m not sure how much longer these leaves are going to last on me. I think I’ll try one more infusion and see how it goes.

Third Infusion (5:00, 185)

I’m finally tasting that cigar-like sweetness that Auggy mentioned in her review, and it’s sort of a deterrent from continuing. The flavors are also getting really weak and muted, and the sugary taste is too much in the forefront to be enjoyable. At least there’s no astringency! But there’s also nothing interesting, either. The body is thinner overall. I’m going to stop here.

So lackluster subsequent steeps, but the first was absolutely delicious. I’m not sure how to rate this, since oolongs are supposed to sustain over multiple steeps, but I really liked that first infusion.

185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Best ‘Oscar’ for this 5-star tea review…as a Oolong lover I will most probably print this one out and hang it in my kitchen. Just to make sure never to forget how exciting Oolongs are…no matter after how many tins I opened, how many brews were made and how many cups have been drunk already! Big hugh from overseas…

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244 tasting notes

This is the NYT crossword puzzle of teas. What I mean by that is that everything is there, right in front of me, but I just don’t get it. =)

They make it sound so grand, don’t they? Let’s see how my experience compares to the expectations created by the description:

“Mesmerizing, silver-tipped leaves…” – Absolutely. I never (okay, almost never) notice the quality/attributes of the leaves I’m steeping. I’m generally as oblivious of them as I am of a film’s score and soundtrack while I’m watching it: that is to say, completely. But these actually warranted a second look. They seem delicate, a bit like very fine yarn.

“…with a nectary amber liquor.” – I would say honey more than amber, but okay.

“A supple bouquet of orange blossoms…” – Um…what? [looks under a leaf] Where’s that hiding, then?
“…and chestnuts…” – Eh? You’re having a laugh, surely.
“…gentle hints of dates…” – Well, maybe. I did occasionally detect an underlying sweetness that could, if one were feeling quite generous, be attributed to dates. Maybe.
“…musky cedar…” – Finally! Finally something I can sort of detect. A sort of smoky, roasty kind of thing. Woodsy kind of thing. Not in a rooibos way, but like in a forest kind of way. In a go-chop-some-wood-for-the-fireplace kind of way. It’s not overpowering, but it’s definitely there.

So, did I dislike it? No, no, not at all. The flavour isn’t bad, but after my BLAMINYOFACE introduction to lapsang souchong, I’m learning that that smoky roasty thing in a tea doesn’t really do it for me, especially if it’s the star of the show. Golden Moon’s description of this makes it sound like it’s not really meant to be the star of the show, but that’s how it worked out for me. What worries me is how many folks said that this description is spot-on. That means that my tea palate is even less developed than I’d hoped it’d be by now. In any case, I like this well enough to drink the rest of it, but not well enough get more of it, or even re-steep this sample.

Tea amount: 1 sample packet
Water amount: 16oz./~475mL
Additives: After a few unadulterated sips, ~1 level tbsp Demerara sugar.
Caffeine: Seems to me to be pretty high. I’ve not drunk much of the tea from my mug, but am already exhibiting some of the symptoms of too much caffeine (my tolerance for it is extremely low).
Dry mouth factor: 6/10. It’s not very bad, but it’s a little bit more than middle of the road.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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