We have another oolong sipdown here. This one was a little different from the unflavored oolongs I normally consume. I grow ginseng at home and I am familiar with the smell and taste of it, but had never had a ginseng tea prior to this.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I have been experimenting with my brewing methods lately and wanted to try something new for this one. I remember reading somewhere that the first infusion for Taiwanese oolongs should be about 30-50 seconds following the rinse and that the steep time should be increased by about 10-20 seconds per infusion after that. This method is supposed to produce a minimum of 5-8 strong infusions. I decided to try it. For this session, I conducted a rinse of approximately 10 seconds and then steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 30 seconds. This infusion was followed by 6 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 10 seconds, 1 minute 20 seconds, 1 minute 40 seconds, and 2 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the leaves imparted a slightly floral aroma that was overpowered by the herbal character of ginseng. After the rinse, the floral and ginseng aromas were joined by touches of cream and butter. The first infusion produced a floral, creamy, and herbal nose. In the mouth, I got strong notes of flowers (lily, saffron, magnolia) and ginseng up front and a smooth creaminess and butteriness on the back of the throat. There was also a lingering sweetness. The next 5 infusions really continued to emphasize the interplay of fresh flowers and ginseng against a backdrop of cream and butter. A slight minerality had begun to sneak in by the fifth infusion. The final two infusions were very mild. I detected fleeting aromas and flavors of ginseng, butter, and flowers with a more pronounced minerality evident. At that point, I cut the session short.
Overall, I enjoyed this oolong. I think it did a very good job of presenting the aroma and flavor of ginseng, and I also thought it integrated this very distinct aroma and flavor fairly well. Due to the simplicity of the tea aroma and flavor, it was rather obvious to me that this was not exactly the highest grade oolong in the world, but it was appealing in its own way. More importantly, however, it worked well with the ginseng, which meant that it accomplished its intended purpose. In the end, this struck me as being a good tea to try for those who are maybe considering taking the plunge into ginseng oolongs.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Flowers, Herbaceous, Mineral