Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Lovely Oolong

A fountain in the church garden that has the diptych.

I decided I really needed to stretch myself more in the tea making department. I am often too lazy to get the most from my Oolongs and green teas, infusing them only once. Today, however, I decided to closely follow instructions from Gingko Seto, who owns Life in Teacup, and whom I really respect as knowledgeable, and do it her way. I selected her Dong Ding Oolong, Competition Grade III. This is sometimes known elsewhere as Tong Ting. It means it is a high grown Oolong, from Taiwan, grown above 3000 feet. There is a large temperature difference up there between day and night and it is often misty, meaning there is high humidity and filtered sunlight, without a lot of rain. This makes the tea grow slowly, producing more of the stuff that makes it a quality tea. The dry tea is tightly rolled, dark green balls with just hints of a floral, nutty scent. Grade III means it came in 4th in competition.

Gingko believes all tea, green, Oolong, or black can be infused with water just below the boil. So I did. I rinsed the little tea balls - about 3 grams of them -which I always do with Oolongs. This begins the process of relaxing the leaves so they can unfurl. I rinsed and drained and then waited a minute. I don't usually and I think this made a difference in the quality of the first infusion. Altogether I did 3, 20 second and 1, 30 second infusions.

1. It smells of green straw and tasted like fresh dried hay. You must remember I am a farm girl and these are my reference points. I liked it. I always liked to chew on long stalks of hay.

2. A lovely floral scent has come out, with still some straw, but some hazelnut is there as well. The taste incorporates all three, with the floral definitely in the lead.

3. A heavier, fuller, floral smell and taste and the tea seems to be more of a broth than just water. The taste lingers and gains a bit of vegetable greenness.

4. A very light scent of biscuits, that toasted flour/butter aroma. Yum. This is a pretty thin infusion, with just a touch of the biscuit, a little floral, a little vegetable. The taste mostly comes after you swallow and then lingers.

5. I mixed them all, as you might if you had a number of people tasting, and I must say, the combination is quite nice, combining all the scents and flavors of the four infusions.

I have to say that although this was time consuming, it was a lot of fun and I think I gained more of an appreciation for what I was drinking. If you would like to read some of Gingko's writings, just click on the Life in Teacup name to the right and there you'll be!

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