Se Chung

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From Upton Tea

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This Chinese Oolong tea is highly complex and quite unlike any other. It is my favorite offering from Upton Tea. It is made of whole, light green leaves that are tightly curled and become dark green and unfurl a great deal in brewing.

When brewed, this tea is light golden green like many greener oolongs. It has a complex aroma that has some of the cripser herbal qualities of green teas, and some sharper tones, with a hint of skunkiness. It also has darker, more mellow characteristics, and some woody tones, and, I find on the second cup brewed off the same leaves, often a hint of a wine-like quality. The flavor is simultaneously bolder and smoother than most green teas. Some people have told me that it has an aroma reminiscent of marijuana, but I find this to be less true of this tea than some other oolong varieties. It is moderately bitter and becomes slightly sour if brewed for a long time, and with only the faintest hint of astringency. Overall, I love this tea, although I would classify it as a somewhat peculiar tea that not everyone would like.

This tea takes on a somewhat different character depending on how long it is brewed. The brewing instructions from Upton, 1 tsp. of leaves per cup of water, and a lower temperature, I find to be right-on, although I've also used a higher temperature to brew the tea without much of a noticeable change. The leaves hold up very well to multiple brewings and I would say it is a waste to not use the leaves for multiple brewings. Brewing initially for a shorter period of time (3 min. or under) yields a mellow tea with hints of sharpness. Brewing longer (5+ min.) yields a darker, richer tea. I usually like to make two cups out of this tea by brewing the first cup for 3 min. and the second for 5, or brewing the first for 5 and the second for even longer. I've also had luck with three brews: two of 3 min. and one of 5+. The third cup is surprisingly complex and flavorful, and the second cup often has aromas and qualities seemingly absent from the first. I tend to brew the first cup(s) at a lower temperature and the last cup at a higher temperature.

This tea is very inexpensive relative to how subtle and interesting it is. The fact that it can be brewed multiple times and in different ways gives it even more value and versatility. I'd recommend this one to people who like trying new teas and want to try something genuinely different. Connoisseurs of Oolongs may really enjoy this one--don't be fooled by the low price, this one is a contender among the best of the greener oolongs.

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