Dragon Balls (Long Qui)

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Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Kristin
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195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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16 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Feeling adventurous again today – thought I’d try my DRAGON BALL that Doulton sent me. Thank you once again Doulton. Confession: I am in the very small minority (perhaps the only person here on...” Read full tasting note
  • “My Silk Road Tea order arrived this afternoon and of course I had to try the Dragon Balls first. I was prepared for something a bit larger than a jasmine pearl and a bit smaller than one of...” Read full tasting note
  • “First off, I need to say thank you to Doulton! I was one of the winners of the Dragon Ball Giveaway (see thread here: http://steepster.com/discuss/501-dragon-ball-giveaway ). I had never heard of...” Read full tasting note
  • “I believe the first words out of my mouth were, “Woah, now THAT’S a big ball!” We only thought the Black Dragon Pearls were big. These puppies are HUGE! I immensely enjoyed watching the ball...” Read full tasting note

From Silk Road Teas

An unusual looking tea with a wonderful taste. An oxidized Oolong from An Xi Region, the leaves are hand-rolled into small brown-color balls. As the long leaves unfurl, a rich earthy taste is released, pungent yet very pleasant. This tea gives a nuanced and strong taste and leaves a nice aftertaste. Multiple steeps are assured. Steep in water about 195-200 degrees for 2-3 minutes.

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16 Tasting Notes

1112 tasting notes

Feeling adventurous again today – thought I’d try my DRAGON BALL that Doulton sent me. Thank you once again Doulton.

Confession: I am in the very small minority (perhaps the only person here on Steepster!) who does not like to see leaves unfurl, or display teas! I think they look like deep sea creatures/aliens being born and they scare me. I think it all stems from when my mother let me watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers on television (this was the 1970s) at a tender age and I didn’t sleep right for over a year.

SO – the dragon ball will be doing its thing in my very opaque tea pot :)

I do find the dry Dragon Ball very pretty, and I did parade it around my office showing everyone what I was about to drink!

Steep 1: I don’t know what it looks like, but I can say it TASTES utterly delicious! Smooth and so SWEET!!! Kind of buttery and kind of …tea and Pastry keeps coming to mind. No bitterness at all. I can’t get over how naturally sweet :) I didn’t put the ball into a tea filter bag because I thought it would be too constraining, and I don’t have a strainer at work, but the little bit of leaves that are in my cup are not bothersome at all and have not affected the taste.

Steep 2 (3min): A bit darker of a brew, but again not at all bitter. I don’t know – I think I taste tea with a buttery sweet pastry with a little cinnamon in it. A little floral on the tail end. It’s amazing!!!! I’m not sure what kind of oolong this is compared to Oriental Beauty, but it reminds me of a slightly spicy darker version of the Oriental Beauty I had at Radiance. That sweetness!!!

Steep 3 (4 min): Still phenomenal! Pretty much the same as the 2nd steep.

I’m going to keep on steepin’ on, (the whole office is ordering Chinese today and this will go great with my Wonton Soup and Black Bean Chicken!) and will edit this post in the afternoon :)


(did I just say that!?!?!)

EDIT: SIX amazing, delicious infusions. This tea is wonderful to sip, and wonderful with food. I HAVE to order some soon. Doulton, how many dragon balls do you get when you get 1/4 lb? I can’t picture and want to make sure I order enough.

The fortune in my fortune cookie: An optimist is the human personification of spring.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

LOL! Great note :D I’ll admit that I too am not a fan of watching teas unfurl – especially the flowering ones for pretty much the reasons you stated (without the Body Snatchers memory – I have different kindertraumas). I’m not interested in the typical teas unless I imagine them screaming in agony – which seems a bit demented to me, so I avoid doing it ;)


I can just hear everyone, “Don’t drink the tea, its an alien.”


Lol. I admit, I like watching them unfurl and I’m eager to see my dragon ball… ahem… descend….


I caved and ordered these Dragon balls.

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259 tasting notes

My Silk Road Tea order arrived this afternoon and of course I had to try the Dragon Balls first. I was prepared for something a bit larger than a jasmine pearl and a bit smaller than one of those round gum balls. What I got was full-throttle testicle sized balls!

Anyhow, I put a ball into a glass tea pot and put in some just not boiled water and removed it to the dining room table, in scientific mode, to see how the ball would unfurl.

I was joined by my grey cat who is known as Bongo or Princess Annie or “mon frère”, depending on which member of my household you happen to be. He stared, utterly enchanted, at the slow unwinding of the dragon ball. At first it seemed to be resisting the heat and looked like a huge wad of chewing tobacco stuck in the cheek of a New York Yankee. Then slowly and subtly, the ball began to disintegrate. The cat and I were both captivated. It may have been something like watching an elderly movie star remove her make-up to reveal the ruins underneath. It ended up in a long-leaved mound and looked a bit like one of Monet’s paintings of hay-stacks in my glass pot.

The ball took five minutes to become a large mound and I thought it was high time to drink it (I had been making some experimental pours throughout). The water was a deep amber and indeed I thought that perhaps it would sport the kidney taste redolent of a tad of urine. Dragon Ball tea is indeed a bit funky, but not like urine. It’s more like the taste of decorous garden greens taken from a nut-growing plantation.

Oolings are rapidly becoming a favorite brew for me. They are subtle and they make me think seriously hard to pin down my characterization of their taste. I don’t think that there are enough analogies, similes, and metaphors to cover, adequately, the world of tea. I’m thrilled that I will get three or more steeps from my first ever Dragon Ball!

SECOND Steep: When I poured in the water, the Monet hay-stack collapsed into a pile of long delicate leaves. The second steep reinforces my favorable opinion. The aroma is delicate, nutty and floral and this time I can taste some buttery malt—subtle but certainly there. The color is a deeper amber because I gave it an extra 30 seconds. This tea is delightful on its own, but the name and the slow unfurling of the big ball make it a real conversation piece as well.
P.S. Thank you very much to Erin who told me how to bold text.

3 min, 15 sec
Meghann M

How do you bold text? I couldn’t figure it out.

The name of this alone made me want to try the tea, but your description of how the ball unfurled makes me want to see this myself!


Boy, sometimes, some posts make me feel very naive, especially “perhaps it would sport the kidney taste redolent of a tad of urine”. But glad for you that this tea ended up tasting of something else entirely! And oh, check this out on the Steepster discussions: http://tinyurl.com/yjgs8gf – there’s some help with text modifications.


Thank you for posting that, Lauren! I didn’t know about it before at all.

And anyone who tries this must put it in a glass pot. I know that teas generally look better in glass, but some greens and oolongs really look at their best in glass.


Woah, this is pretty cool!

Do images work too!??!


Guess not =(


Wow, I’m glad my job isn’t harvesting dragon balls. Way to get singed big time. Lol. But seriously (or just not as unseriously), this sounds so intriguing. I must get me some dragon balls!


Per ball, to brew, do you use 6-8 oz water?


Yes, or even a bit more. I think I used a 12-16 ounce tea pot once and it was strong enough.

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176 tasting notes

First off, I need to say thank you to Doulton! I was one of the winners of the Dragon Ball Giveaway (see thread here: http://steepster.com/discuss/501-dragon-ball-giveaway ). I had never heard of Silk Road Teas, but after tasting these balls, I will be sure to place an order from them. [Also, I need to give a preemptive “that’s what she said,” because this tasting note is going to be nuts – no pun intended]

I also need to say that these balls were alarmingly huge. Everyone – my self included – who has ever had Adagio’s Black Dragon Pearls remarked about how large those are. These are easily 2 to 3 times as large! Like I said, it was startling. As you can see here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/47736372@N04/4531751436/ – they are about the size of an iPod Classic scroll wheel.

Doulton enclosed a note with the package (written using what appears to be a lovely fountain pen – I do love fountain pens) saying that the balls would need a bit of prodding to get them to open up completely. This is true; I plunked them in the water and they just sank to the bottom and sat there until I took out a spoon and knocked them around a bit. When they were done steeping, the water had turned a lovely orange color – http://www.flickr.com/photos/47736372@N04/4531755036/ . No, that isn’t an ice cube in my mug. It’s the reflection of the beaded lampshade I was using for light (my photography skills leave much to be desired).

This is a black oolong, my favorite kind. It’s extremely smooth and slightly buttery. It is sweet on its own, no sugar needed. The aftertaste is slightly woody. The tea as a whole is more than slightly delicious. As I said in the beginning, I will be ordering these for myself.

Doulton, I know I have said this many times before, but thank you! Your tea giveaway was a lovely idea!


Thank you so much! I’m glad that you liked the experience and your photography is splendid!


I love the comparative to show the size! One trick i have found is to angle myself about 35 degrees off the surface of the most of the time,distorts the image a little…but i know sometimes it’s not an option (hence all the reflections on my office photos) thanks for including the pictures!


[Also, I need to give a preemptive “that’s what she said,” because this tasting note is going to be nuts – no pun intended]

Heh. :)


Holy balls!!!


Yikes – how much tea does one dragon ball make?


All of the sudden, I am thinking of an AC/DC song… I don’t know why……

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161 tasting notes

I believe the first words out of my mouth were, “Woah, now THAT’S a big ball!” We only thought the Black Dragon Pearls were big. These puppies are HUGE!

I immensely enjoyed watching the ball unfurl. Although to be honest, there wasn’t too much unfurling going on during the first and second infusions. The bugger is solid. The second infusion opened it up a little more…but the ball is relatively intact. The taste is that of a solid, middle of the road oolong. It’s a little nutty…a little earthy. Nothing vegetal, not too roasted…just a tasty, slightly sweet oolong. On taste alone I would rate this tea around 80-85. Now, add in the entertainment factor and BAM it becomes an easy 90!

This tea would pair well with several dishes. It has that multi-functional ability. Chinese takeout for dinner…Dragon Balls. Need to impress some friends…Dragon Balls. Quiet night curled up with a blanket and a cat or two…Dragon Balls. Delicious!

I’m having visions of Dragon Balls in Sorapots dancing in my head!!!

Thanks Doulton! You rock…balls.


I think it will be my new mild oath. Stub your toe? “Dragon balls!” Forget something important? “Dragon balls!” Someone says something you strongly disagree with? “What a load of dragon balls!”


I love the fact that this tea is actually named “Dragon Balls”. More teas need official names that make me snicker.


I like “What a load of dragon balls!” :)

Auggy, I totally agree.

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89 tasting notes

First steep was as expected, but the second steep was very flavorful. Then thinking back I realized something. The noise during preparation wasn’t quite right. My kettle, an Adagio utiliTEA kettle with an analog temperature knob, didn’t stop at the selected temperature and the water actually boiled. So, a new, and better, and more reliable kettle goes onto my gift list.

The result was a less delicate, more earthy, more roasted taste. Quite pleasant. I may need to experiment more with hotter water with these darker Oolongs.

Also, unrelated, I need to figure out how to link my notes to my Facebook page. The ‘link’ icon is missing.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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2036 tasting notes

With a name like Dragon Balls, it’s got to be good (or something like that). I have been intrigued ever since I saw the first post on this. Doulton kindly provided me with a sample ball in my Dammann Freres shipment. I had, as it happened, placed an order with Silk Roads that crossed with the generous sample. So now I’m balled up for at least a while. This is my first attempt, and I can’t wait to be amused.

The ball looks like a fig to me. Or a somewhat worse for wear Hershey’s kiss. It’s round, in an uneven, testicular sort of way, yes. But it’s sort of twisted into a point at what I’m going to call it’s “top.” I’m envisioning it being molded into this shape while damp. I’m thinking tea as papier mache.

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I’m sniffing a Dragon Ball. Dry, it doesn’t give off a lot of fragrance. Maybe a small amount of oolongy toastiness.

Adding water to Dragon Ball. It’s floating! Little bubbles are forming on its outside and floating upward. And it’s gradually puffing up, so that now it looks like one of those gourd-like seed pods that falls off a tree. By the end of the first steep, it’s starting to look like one of the following (1) a bird’s nest, or (2) me on a bad hair day.

After a two minute first steep, it is still at the bird’s nest stage. It has generated a clear, golden yellow liquor, that smells toasty, a little buttery and a tiny bit green, oddly enough. The taste is mild, gentle, and sweet. There is some butter and an unexpected smoke-like note in the aftertaste. But it is not nearly as strong as darker oolongs I have had in the past, and I am wondering whether I used too much water first steep. Will rectify on second steep.

Second steep: 2:30 First, it expanded so much that it knocked up against the sides of my smaller finum filter, so I put it in a bigger one. Then I gave up and just dumped it straight into the cup. It has taken on the look of a Swedish meatball that has been overcooked. I.e., a little ragged, and almost falling apart. A few of the leaves have in fact abandoned ship and floated to the bottom of the cup. Less water does translate into more concentrated aroma. It’s reminding me of the GM Orchid Temple’s aroma, which isn’t a terrific sign as I found that one pretty florally soapy. The taste, however, is not at all soapy and has deepened some. There’s more of that oxidized oolong taste now, some nuttiness, some fruitiness.

Third steep: 3:00 Go Dragon Ball, go! I am stubbornly refusing to prod my Dragon Ball into unfurling before its time. It has, by now, become something that reminds me of the Tasmanian Devil caught in mid-spin. It’s doing a sort of leisurely scarf dance in the cup, taking its sweet time. But aroma and taste wise, this is the best steep yet. The soapiness isn’t there in the aroma anymore and the flavor seems to have intensified and deepened still more as more surface area gets exposed to the water. If I’d stopped after the first or second steep, I would have said this is an interesting novelty but without a great deal of flavor. That’s changing now. I’m now starting to get a dark fruit note that sometimes seems like apricot and sometimes like peach.

Fourth steep: 3:30 Morgie vs. Dragon Ball. We are locked in a battle of wills. It still refuses to deball, however, it is now looking more like an Impressionist rendering of a ball. One more steep and I’m pretty sure I’ll win. And the flavor just gets fruitier, nuttier and more toasty. There are some floral tones, too. The early butter has tapered off in favor of roastiness.

Fifth steep: 4:00 Really more like 5. I forgot to set the timer while I was writing about steep 4. The Dragon Ball is turning out to be a more formidable adversary than I’d thought. It is still not completely unfurled. It is maintaining its flavor, though. It’s just now starting to get that sharp, water as solvent infusion taste that seems to happen in late oolong steeps.

Sixth steep: 5:00 I’m ashamed to admit, I let the Dragon Ball win. I was certain it had become stuck, so I stuck a fork in it and gave it a little shake. It obligingly unfurled completely. Good for six steeps, though, without becoming too weak. The last steep is surprisingly just as dark as the previous one, which is significantly darker than the first. The depth of flavor has lightened and become more floral, but it’s still quite tasty. There is power in them Dragon Balls!

Now I must decide how to rate this and I’m torn. Truly, I think its taste is above average as oxidized oolongs go, but it isn’t bowling me over as astonishingly better than others I’ve had. That said, it does offer a great deal of entertainment value, and it does have an admirable longevity.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I absolutely adored this note — there was much snickering and lolling :)


Gee, I want this tea just to play with now! Sounds like fun!

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104 tasting notes

My son being out for the day with a family friend I decided to dive in and finally use one of the dragon balls that I won from *Doulton*’s giveaway. Unfortunately today seems to be shaping up to be a teething day for my daughter so I didn’t get to enjoy the first steep as much as I wanted to.

1st infusion: 7 1/2 minutes, near-boiling water
I set one ball into my 40oz glass pot and poured the nearly boiling water over it, nearly filling the pot. No need to nudge this one. It floated at the top and stayed there, gently dropping leaves which then also floated to the top. It rather resembled a kelp bed actually.

At 3 1/2 minutes I poured a bit out to taste and for some reason forgot to taste what I had poured until after I had poured the rest out into an iced tea jug to keep it from over steeping. Only then did I realize it wasn’t strong enough and poured the liquor back into the pot to finish steeping. Oops.

4 minutes later, after making sure to taste for strength, I poured some of the tea off into my blue tetsubin and the rest into the iced tea jug. The liquor was a lovely deep amber with a malty, woodsy, nutty and slightly floral taste. Not jasmine or honeysuckle type florals, more like Lady Slippers and Queen Anne’s Lace and tiny white Starflower and Bunchberry blossoms, woodland florals.

2nd infusion: 18 minutes, near-boiling water
Again, poured some off into my tetsubin and the rest into the iced tea jug. The liquor was a brighter amber with a sweeter nut flavor – like macadamia nuts – and a slight taste like freeze-dried apples and peaches.

3rd infusion: 35 minutes, near-boiling water
After drinking so much liquid I only poured one cup out for tasting and used the rest to fill the iced tea jug the rest of the way. The liquor was a bright honey-amber color with a light nutty-toasty flavor, very much like a genmaicha but not as sweet.

This is definitely going on my list of “Things to buy once I whittle down my tea cabinet a bit”. Looking at the volume of teas in my cabinet though I’m thinking that might take a while. Very glad that Doulton sent two!

205 °F / 96 °C

I also won the generous Doulton’s giveaway! I enjoyed this very much. I’m saving the other ball for when my tiny glass oolong teapot from Samovar arrives.


Yeah, I’m thinking I need a smaller glass pot. This 40oz one is great for making my flowering jasmine tea in the morning because I can fill up a travel mug to bring with me and drink the rest before leaving (if I only fill it 2/3’s of the way) but 40oz is a lot of liquid to try consuming and even more if you’re doing an oolong that you’re planning on steeping multiple times!

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111 tasting notes

I have been quite excited to get my order in from Silk road teas and it finally came in yesterday! It was to late to have it last night so immediately after making bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches I went for it and opened the Dragon Balls. When I peeked in the pouch I was surprised to find huge balls (no joke). The dry scent was just like tea and the balls were black not greenish like the ones in the picture.

I was surprised by the light color of the liquor being that the dry leaf was so dark. It taste quite nice like a smooth slightly sweet black tea. I’m not picking up on much else I don’t know if it’s because I just finished the bagel sandwich or what hmm.

I do like it and will definitely drink it again I’m not sure if I’d reorder but if I decide that I need to drink this more as things tend to grow on me slowly and I find myself needing teas that I didn’t think I was crazy about to begin with such as Dawn if this happens I will up the rating! :)

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Now I really want a bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich! Even just egg and cheese would be awesome right now. My body feels like it needs salt or something.

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335 tasting notes

Thank you Doulton for this tea, first of all. It is truly an experience! :)

I have saved this tea for a special occasion, but nothing special came up except a day of doing nothing. I used 10oz of water per ball. I used Morgana’s perimeters for each steep, but I added a minute to each steep. I’m drinking my 2nd steep as I type this.

The first steep was a light amber brew. I used a butter knife to pry it more open, by the second brew, it was a beautiful loose mess of leaves. It smells sweet and floral. I get a small pastry like taste like a cookie. The 2nd brew got darker, and not as sweet.

This is a fun tea! It just wants to be shared while it’s brewed. The taste is good, but the experience heightens the tea.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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28 tasting notes

Fabulous oolong tea. Intense, strong, pungent flavor. And there’s an additional pleasure of watching the ball expand when you steep it. Before the first steeping, it’s just a little ball at the bottom of the teamaker. By the 3d or 4th steeping, it has expanded to fill up the whole vessel! Also great for travel, because you can just pop one into a cup without having to measure it.

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