On October 9th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Mount Chilai in Hualien County, Taiwan. This sample of Mt. Chilai Traditional Roasted Oolong was purchased from Easy Tea Hard Choice Co. Ltd. To order a 25 gram sample of your own, please visit http://www.eztea-tw.com.
The tea leaves used to produce this tea are hand-plucked, then hand-processed by tea artisan Mr. Lee Ming Zheng. The tea is grown at an elevation of about 6,000 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level. This is a true high mountain oolong tea.
The sample pack has been opened, and a very complex aroma is hitting my nose. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this Mount Chilai Traditional Roasted Oolong are brown to dark brown in color. They are tightly rolled into semi-ball shape. These semi-ball leaves have an average size of a pea. Many of the leaves have the stem still attached. There is minimal breakage, and no crumbs whatsoever. Now, on to the best part, the aroma. To be honest, the aroma is usually the difficult part of the analysis and description for me, as I find my sense of smell to be rather weak. This tea, however, had the most complex and layered aroma of dry leaves that I can remember smelling. I would like to note that I had not been eating or smelling anything within 30 minutes of doing this review, so I do not believe my smell was masked by non-tea influences. The smell began as a typical roasty and woody smell. After a few deep inhales, nice scents of cocoa and mint started to break through the roasty and woody scents. Once I was able to put all of the scents together, the full aroma was bewildering. It was among the best smells I have ever experienced. Truly outstanding.
The standard preparation method was used to perform this sampling. Filtered tap water was heated to 195ºF (90ºC). Twelve grams of dry leaves were placed in a 32 ounce (950 ml) glass teapot. The leaves were infused for 2 minutes, then strained into a separate decantor.
The first infusion produced a liquor that was a bright golden-yellow in color, clear and transparent. The aroma is roasted nuts, woody, and lightly floral. The liquor is medium to full bodied, with a smooth texture. The taste has notes of flowers, roasted nuts, wood, and mineral. The aftertaste lingers with a mostly floral, slightly mineral taste. The taste of this tea is very nicely layered. I am excited to see how this tea will mature in the second infusion.
Another quick note, while the water was heating for the second infusion, I smelled the wet leaves in the pot. Again, these leaves have an aroma that is simply amazing. A scent of strong flowers (hyacinth?), cocoa, mint, and wood. I almost don’t trust my nose right now, that is how interesting and unique these leaves smell.
For this second infusion, I increased the temperature 10ºF to 205ºF (96ºC), and kept the infusion time to 2 minutes.
The second infusion produced a liquor that was darker than the first infusion, with a golden yellow color. The aroma maintains the roasted nut scent, with wood and lightly floral. The taste has changed significantly. The body feels heavier, with a more mouth filling texture. The taste has become woody and floral, but the floral is different than the first infusion. It is more pronounced and bold. There is also a more pronounced mineral flavor. The aftertaste remains lingering and floral. This second infusion had a stronger, more bold character, and it was simply amazing. This second infusion lived up to any expectation that the dry leaf aroma created. It is very interesting how the slightly hotter water temperature changed the entire dynamic of the tea.
The change in color between the photos of the second and third infusions is due to the fact that my iPhone died mid-sampling, and I had to use the camera on my tablet for this third infusion. The true color difference between the second and third infusion is minimal. The color of the third infusion remains bright golden yellow. The aroma has lightened on the roasted nuts and wood smell, but those two scents remain the strongest, with the floral scents being slightly more noticeable than in the second infusion. The body and taste has lightened considerably, with notes of floral, wood, mineral, and roasted nuts. The aftertaste remains strong and floral. Lighter than the second infusion, but still incredibly tasteful. There is nothing to be ashamed of in this third infusion. I am confident that a fourth and maybe a fifth would produce highly acceptable flavors.
The infused leaves of this oolong are a uniform dark green color. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a bud, with the occasional three and a bud pluck. Almost all of the leaves are fully intact, many still attached to the stem. There are very few fragments. The leaves have retained a considerable amount of structural durability after three infusions, suggesting that one or two additional infusions are possible. The aroma is roasty, with light floral and woody scents.
Easy Tea Hard Choice has surprised me yet again with another great oolong tea. The aroma of the dry leaves got me extremely excited, and the taste of all three infusions kept me interested. I have nothing but positive things to say about every aspect of this tea. This tea is difficult to compare to other oolongs, as the aroma and taste were very unique. My suggestion to you reading this, go to the website referenced at the top of this review, order this 25 gram sample packet, as well as a 25 gram sample of the Red Rhythm Black Tea, or any of the samples for that matter, wait excitedly for the package to arrive, then sit back and prepare yourself for a great pot of tea.
Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.