Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wulong Tea

More commonly referred to as 'oolong,' I prefer the alternate spelling of this famous Chinese tea. Though it is not as old as its green tea counterpart, oolong is China's most famous type of tea. Unlike green tea which is produced from leaves that are minimally oxidized, and black tea, which is comprised of 100% oxidized tea leaves, oolong is partially oxidized anywhere from 10%-70%. The resulting color of the tea can be anywhere from light golden green to a darker amber, and the flavors from grassier and more green tea like to more floral, strong and black tea like. Here are two contrasting styles of Oolong which I tasted recently.

Silk Road 'Competition Grade' Oolong tea

A dark green colored, ball shaped tea, this oolong is very fresh, grassy and green smelling. Just a touch of the oolong musky floral aromatics lead to crisp, clean and green flavors, with good purity and persistence on the finish.

Lupicia Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea

From Fujiang province, this is clearly a more heavily oxidized version of oolong - the tea is clearly a very dark shade of green, almost bluish-black. Once brewed, this tea takes on a light brown color, with strong floral scents that for some reason brings to mind an old lady smell. Strange, yes, but that's what it smells like. The flavors are similarly floral with a touch of dried apricot. I'm not as into this oolong as the above; maybe I have not yet developed a taste for the stronger, more heavily oxidized oolongs?