Posted by: dan | August 27, 2009

waltzing oolong (part 4)


Dan: For those of you who might have missed what this little series is about, allow me to re-cap. After a couple of bad run-ins with oolongs not long after we started this blog I’ve been a little wary of them. I realised this might be a problem when I was running low on teas but then noticed I had 5 different oolongs sat in my cupboard. I resolved to try again. So far I’ve tried a Peachy Oolong; a Tung Ting Oolong; and some Jasmine Pearls. So far I’ve not been put off (I even found I could like Jasmine tea if it was brewed right), but I’ve also yet to be convinced. This is the penultimate post in this series (but there will be more oolong related posts – don’t worry) and my fourth oolong is to be Lahloo’s Jade Green.

As with all Lahloo’s teas there is a wonderful little description of what to expect:

This wonderful Chin Shin oolong is grown in Nantou County, the famous tea growing region of Taiwan. The glossy jade green leaves are skilfully rolled into spheres, a method used in Taiwan; they say it gives the tea a deeper flavour. Their know-how shines out – the flavours linger deliciously on your tongue! The spheres do take a little time to open but it is worth waiting for! They release a lovely delicate, floral aroma and a naturally sweet taste.

A terrible photo in which you can kind of see the size of the leaves.

A terrible photo in which you can kind of see the size of the leaves.

I’ve just brewed a cup and I’m going to disagree with one small point. The spheres definitely do not take very much time to open. Not long after I poured on the water they were busy trying to engulf all the space in the infuser. They were succeeding too. Considering that I was following the instructions to only infuse them for a minute or two they really made use of the time. I kept the amount of leaves I used down as well! But Lahloo are right on one point – it’s worth seeing. The difference is incredible.

Back to the tea. It smells rather like the jasmine teas I’ve had before which is a little disconcerting. The aroma is very (and this is going to sound ridiculous and obvious) wet. It’s quite sappy and floral too but I can’t really think how to describe it better than ‘wet’. Which is not the best imagery ever – sorry. The all important question of course is the taste. I brewed with freshly boiled water that had been left to cool for two minutes, according to Lahloo’s instructions; infused for another two minutes; and I’m ashamed to say, I’ve left it on my desk to cool for a half an hour. Perhaps I should have tried it sooner – but then thinking about it, I actually seem to prefer oolongs after they’ve been left to cool for a while. Enough chit-chat, let’s taste it.

Looks creamy. Lahloo advise you don't add milk. I agree.

Looks creamy. Lahloo advise you don't add milk. I agree.

I’m almost bowled over. It’s verging on delicious. It still has the general ‘oolong’ flavour that I’m not so keen on but it’s been relegated to an underlying texture here. The main flavour is a sweet, flowery one that has the most unusual characteristic I’ve come across in any tea I’ve drunk so far. Holding the tea in your mouth seems to yield no real flavour at all – it’s when you swallow that it comes to life. A great blast of sumptuous aftertaste lights up your tongue and floods your mouth with flavour. In fact, I am bowled over.

I’ve just poured myself another cup from the still-warm teapot. A drink now is almost the exact opposite. The vegetable bitterness sits on the top and the aftertaste is diminished. So with one post left in this series, I think I’ve solved my problem with oolongs. They’re supposed to be drunk lukewarm. You’re supposed to let it cool for much longer than you normally would. Why did no-one tell me this before? It’s not a matter of the flavour changing – it’s actually still developing as if there’s a post-brewed infusing state. I’ve had a revelation here and it’s made me realise two things. I’m actually looking forward to my next oolong tea; and I may have been a little unfair on the previous oolongs I’ve tried. Oops. Oh well – I did say I was an amateur at these things.

Dan was drinking Lahloo’s Jade Green oolong tea, available at ¬£7 for 50g.



  1. Yes, warm tea. You’re becoming American. Soon you’ll be posting about getting ice cubes at work. The colder the tea, the better, I must say. –Spirituality of Tea

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