Thursday, December 15, 2005


Formosa Fancy Oolong Imperial, Upton Tea Imports

Out of 5.
Overall - 3
Primary Flavors - 3 1/2
Secondary Flavors - 3
Aroma - 4
Finish - 3
Temperament - 3

Today's tea attacks the monster head on, with a pricey loose roll Formosan. While I didn't love it, I appreciated this tea. The aroma pulls you in, a grassy meadow with a black earth undertone... it smells like summer in Georgia. One of the best aromas I've found in an oolong. The taste was less subtle, however, with an overpowering taste of sugarcane and grass. It sits on your palate overly sweet, and stifles the sesame and mahongany undertones that would have really filled out the flavor. There was no bitter green at all, which represents a major step forward for Taiwan, and bodes well for their chances of overcoming their national fear of oxidized tea. I definitely "get" this tea, I appreciate the uniquness of the aroma, primary and secondary flavors, but it isn't my favorite.

Another light liquor, this tea looks almost identical to Rishi's Wuyi generic tea you can buy at Whole Foods. You could easily pull a Folger's crystals switcheroo and fool someone with the loose, multi-colored red/green/white leaves - at least until you went to brew it, when the very Taiwanese yellow-green cup would give it away. We did it again with hot water and a basket... I wonder if a yixing would mellow out the sugarcane? A darker clay would add some much needed toastiness... I almost suggested that this tea would blend well, but besides being anathema to tea snobbery I think the sesame/mahogany secondary notes would be crushed rather than enhanced by a blending, and a crude sugary grass isn't going to enhance anything else well. It would be much too cruel to suggest a nice plum flavoring, so this one will have to stand on it's own... an interesting but gangly prototype of a tea, a few pekoe leaves and another couple of hours in the sun away from greatness.