Thursday, May 23, 2019

Formosa Fancy Bai Hao oolong tea review - MastersTeas.com

I was thrilled to hear about the MastersTeas.com website by Adagio Teas. I was even more thrilled to get a chance to sample some of their teas.

Masters Teas by Adagio are all freshly harvested and from small tea farms. My mom always liked to buy the expensive “first flush” or freshly picked teas at her local Japanese store, shipped straight from Japan, because she likes the superior flavor of the tea, so a website completely dedicated to freshly harvested teas is really neat. First flush teas typically have an expiration date from 6-12 months after harvest, and I could really tell that the quality decreases after a year, even if the teas are stored properly.

As of this blog post, the sample packets did not have instructions for steeping (it would have been nice to have instructions on the packet), so I had to look it up on the MastersTeas.com website.

I received 2 oolongs, 2 green teas, and 1 black tea sampler. Today, I’ll review the Formosa Fancy Bai Hao oolong.

As a disclaimer, I drink a lot of green tea—sencha, genmaicha, and hojicha—and I’m a big fan of various black teas prepared British style with milk and sometimes sugar, but I don’t drink much oolong tea. I prepared the oolongs the way it recommended on the MastersTeas.com website, but since I don’t have a lot of experience with oolong, I used this article on the smithtea.com website as reference for steeping the oolongs Gong Fu style.

I have a small Japanese tea pot which I used for all the teas.

I took pictures of the tea before steeping and after steeping, but because the light is different on different days, I also included some rosemary and chocolate mint sprigs so you can compare the color of the tea.

Formosa Fancy Bai Hao:

According to the website:

“This rare Formosa Superior Fancy Oolong is a true treat for the senses. The leaves are quite tippy with a fragrant bouquet when dry. Once brewed the cup is one of peach blossoms with a lingering honey note.”

“This tea contains a high level of caffeine. Steep at 212° for 2-3 minutes.”

I first steeped it according to the website. I put 1 tablespoon of tea in 235 mL (about 1 cup) of 212℉ water for 3 minutes. Since the leaves are long and curling, 1 tablespoon was actually quite airy and at first I wasn’t sure if it was enough tea, but the pot brewed quite nicely.

I don’t know if I really tasted peach blossoms, but it definitely has a light floral note and it is a little softly sweet. The tea brewed strong but not bitter or overpowering. Not quite as acidic or bright as green teas, but a very gentle mouth feel. I thought it tasted very good paired with fruit but not as much with sweets like cake or cookies, and I enjoyed it best when drunk on its own without snacks.

This tea re-steeped really well, but the first steeping was the best. The second steeping (212 for 5 min) wasn’t as floral or sweet as the first pot, but was still a nice gentle tea with good flavor.

I tried the Gong Fu method of brewing next according to the website (1 tablespoon of tea, 100 mL of 190℉ water). After discarding the rinse, I brewed each steeping one after another and poured them into teacups (and tasted them as they came off). In the picture, it starts from 12 o’clock, which is the 20 second steeping, and going clockwise, each cup is an additional 10 seconds of steeping, ending with a 70 second steeping. The website recommends to keep brewing until the flavor of the tea is too weak, but I stopped at 70 seconds. I could have re-steeped at least another 3 or 4 cups, or possibly more.

Tea connoisseurs will be appalled, but I didn’t care for the tea using this method. The tea was weak, especially the first 2 steepings, and while the taste grew stronger, it didn’t have that depth and complexity as when I first steeped it at 212℉ for 3 minutes. I could probably add more tea leaves next time, but the first two or three steepings are kind of a waste of water and time because they’re just not that flavorful to me. Also, I rarely re-steep tea because I don’t care for the weakening flavor, and this was just consecutive re-steeping.

I also made this into an iced tea by doing a regular steeping and then putting it into the refrigerator. It was a fantastic iced tea, with a hint of sweetness, and I enjoyed it even more after adding some cut up strawberries to the tea pitcher, which seemed to compliment the flavor very well.

I would serve this tea at something like a summer brunch, or with a salad lunch. I don’t know if I’d really drink this alongside or after a heavier dinner, but I personally enjoy it best with fruits and slightly acidic vegetables.

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