Circling back around to the samples from Nepal Tea, the packet of Shangri-La Oolong Tea caught my attention. A few years have passed since I last reviewed an oolong from Nepal, so it’s time to get reacquainted.
You can get acquainted with the Shangri-La Oolong Tea for USD $11.99. At the time, this is only available in pyramid teabags. The loose leaf form should be back in stock soon. Who says you can’t tear open that pyramid bag and drop the leaves in your preferred brewing vessel?
I have covered quite a bit of information on Nepal Tea in my previous reviews of the Organic Silver Yeti White Tea and the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea. Check out those reviews for information on Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, and the good they do for their local tea growing communities in Nepal.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a uniform pale charcoal grey color, with a few small golden tips in the mix, and no obvious bare stems. The leaves also have a uniform shape and size, appearing to consist mostly of detached whole leaves and large fragments. I am having trouble deciding if I think these leaves are twisted, rolled, or a combination of both. Not that this observation takes away from the overall high quality of the appearance. Generally speaking, the teas from Nepal that I have come across are usually machine rolled, and look similar to Darjeeling teas. But this tea definitely has a unique appearance. The leaves and buds still attached to stems show a superfine plucking standard of one leaf and bud. The color of the leaves indicates a heavier oxidation level, but not full oxidation. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, malt, dry wood, and dry cherries.
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.
The liquid has a beautiful, rich gold-red-orange color. The aroma has scents of malt, grapes, and lighter scents of black pepper, licorice, and pine wood. The body is full, with a fluffy, biscuit-like texture. There is a light briskness, a very light and smooth bitterness, and very little astringency. The taste reflects the aroma very closely, with notes of malt, grapes, black pepper, and lighter notes of licorice and pine wood. The aftertaste is lightly sweet and spicy, and a peppery feeling is left on the tongue.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. Again, some of the leaves look twisted, while others look machine rolled. The leaves are mostly detached whole leaves and large fragments. There are a few detached bud fragments, and a few pickings showing a superfine one leaf and bud plucking standard. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves have a soft, smooth, leathery texture, but also have a rather durable feel, like they can stand up to several rounds of infusion. This photo was taken after the second use of the leaves. The leaves are long and fairly narrow, evidence of the use of Chinese clonal tea bushes, also found commonly growing in Darjeeling. The scent has notes of malt, grapes. and a touch of licorice.
The Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea from Nepal Tea is not your typical oolong tea. Although having more similarities to a Darjeeling second flush tea than some of the more well known oolongs of China, this tea has a very distinct set of qualities. Namely, the mouth feel of this tea is remarkable. From the fluffy, biscuity texture to the peppery feel that lingers on the tongue, these are not qualities that I experience often. The nicely balanced sweet and spicy tastes blend beautifully with the light brisk quality, and smooth bitterness. Combine the interesting physical characteristics of this tea with the fact that it is organically produced, and you have a product that deserves to be experienced by any level of tea enthusiast (including those who prefer the convenience of teabags!)
Thanks again to Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for their generosity in offering this sample of Shangri-La Oolong Tea. Cheers!