Roasted Oolong (ZO20)

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From Upton Tea

This is a roasted version of a standard Chinese Ti-Guan-Yin oolong. The leaves are tightly curled and unfurl a great deal upon brewing. The leaves are broken but most are in fairly large, whole pieces. The leaves are a dark reddish brown color and become a dark greenish brown when brewed.

This tea's aroma is smooth and mellow; it has some pleasant woody tones in the aroma, but the flavor is stronger than the lighter oolongs with a similar aroma. Like many less-oxidized Oolongs, I find this tea to be quite subtle, and grow on me as I drink it. Some of the richer flavors sink to the bottom of the cup.

Upton recommends to brew this tea for 3-4 min. at 190 degrees. I found this recommendation to be right on. However, this tea is also not particularly difficult to brew well--I tried using higher-temperature water and it came out drinkable, although with less complexity. This tea is good for multiple infusions too. The second cup comes out lighter in color, but the bold flavor and complexity of the aroma is still there. The third cup is weaker, especially the flavor is lacking, but it is still surprisingly aromatic. I would recommend brewing the first two cups for only 3 min., and letting the third brew a long time. Alternatively you can brew the first for 4 min. and let the second brew a long time for two very rich cups. This tea does not acquire any unpleasant astringency or bitterness even if you let it steep a very long time (15+ min.).

I think this tea offers an outstanding value, especially given that it is so reasonably priced and is good for multiple infusions. It may not be among the best of the best Oolongs, but it's getting up there, and I think it can compete on an equal footing with many higher-priced teas.

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