Tich Kuan Yin (Tie Guan Yin) Oolong Tea:
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From Domega International Co. Ltd.
I bought this tea in a box in Philadelphia's Chinatown. The box had only Chinese characters except for the net weight and the phrase "Oolong Tea", and a sticker added by the importer that read "Tich Kuan Yin" and had (incorrect) nutritional information. Such endeavours are hit-or-miss, and this one is definitely a hit. The dried leaves are very aromatic and tightly curled, and unfurl a good amount during brewing. The dried leaves have a bold, skunky and woody aroma.
This tea is a deep golden color when brewed. The aroma is mellow, woody, honey-like, with a faint hint of skunkiness and a suggestion of a floral quality. This tea is remarkably subdued: there's a hint of sweetness, and almost no bitterness or astringency, but it is very full-bodied.
I have tried brewing this tea differently and it comes out remarkably consistently now matter how it is brewed. I prefer using slightly more than one teaspoon of leaves per cup. If you use fewer leaves, the tea is too bland for me. I also prefer brewing for 5 or 6 minutes. Brewing for only 3 minutes yields a very mellow, light cup of tea, and I prefer something bolder. I have also experimented with different temperatures and I find that the brewing temperature does not affect this tea nearly as much as the brewing time. This tea can handle temperatures just under boiling, without scalding; it does acquire more bitterness and has less sweetness when brewed this way. Lower temperatures bring out the honey-like tones and emphasize the sweetness at the expense of the bitterness.
This tea is incredibly cheap relative to how good it is. I bought 227 grams of it for just under $6. My only concern is that the important company has recalled several products in the past, due to unreported sulfites. Although I searched for and did not find any record of sulfite-related recalls from this company's tea, other brands of teas have been recalled due to unreported sulfites--if you have an allergy or sensitivity to sulfites you may want to be cautious with this brand.