Another review, another difficult decision on which sample will have today’s full attention. I still have quite a few interesting teas from Vietnam to try out, so let’s have a taste of the Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea, which originates in the mountains of Lam Dong Province in south Vietnam.
The sample packet has been opened, and a very sweet, fragrant aroma is welcoming me to begin the evaluation. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a forest green to dark forest green color. The leaves appear to be on the lower side of the oxidation scale. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape, and vary in size from the size of a corn kernel to the size of a kidney bean. These appear to be whole leaves with stems intact, and perhaps a few large fragments. There are no bare stems. The aroma is very sweet, with fragrant scents of brown sugar, molasses, and cinnamon. This is a phenomenal smelling tea.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a light greenish-yellow color, clear and transparent, with few moderately coarse particles. The aroma has scents of sweet milk, light brown sugar, and light orchids. The body is medium, with a silky smooth texture, and a calming energy. The taste has notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchids, and a very light touch of fruit (too light to identify right now). The aftertaste is sweet and floral, and an impressive floral essence in left on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with more of bright golden-yellow color with a modest green tint. The aroma remains fragrant with scents of sweet milk, brown sugar, and light orchids. The body remains medium, and the texture silky. The taste is slightly stronger overall, but retains the notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchid, and the fruity note remains very light but present. The aftertaste remains sweet and floral, and the floral essence remains potent.
The third infusion produced a liquor nearly identical to the second infusion. The aroma has very slightly lightened, but remains quite fragrant and attractive, with scents of brown sugar, sweet milk, and light orchids. The body and texture thinned very slightly. The taste also had a slightly lighter character, but remains very tasteful, with notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchid, light mineral (wet stone), and light tropical fruit. The aftertaste and essence lightened slightly, but are both very enjoyable.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are mostly whole with stems intact. There are a few large fragments in the mix. The pluck varies from two leaves and a bud to four leaves and a bud. Some of the buds are quite developed (as pictured below). The leaves are long and fairly narrow, indicating that this tea is produced from the Chin Shin or closely related cultivar. Few of the leaves had moderate reddish edges, displaying the low level of oxidation. The largest leaf measures 2.75″ (70 mm) long and 1.25″ (32 mm) wide. The leaves have a thin wet leather feel, and are not entirely smooth on the surface. The leaves still have some durability, and I believe at least one to two additional infusions could be produced. A few of the leaves appear to have been bitten by insects. The aroma has scents of mineral (wet stones), light tropical fruit, and very light flowers.
Of the six or so samples of Vietnam oolongs that I have evaluated in the past month or so, this Kim Tuyen Oolong has received the highest rating. The aroma of the dry leaves and liquor was incredibly sweet and inviting, and the taste followed suit. Three quality infusions, with more to offer, made this entire analysis a pleasure from start to finish. Even the infused leaves made for an interesting analysis, showing mature buds, insect bites, and large whole leaves. This Kim Tuyen Oolong tea was truly a pleasure to experience.