Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby Elle » May 30th, '10, 12:13

I like oolong tea. But I love black tea. I'd like to find an oolong to love just as much and I'm looking for suggestions.

My favorite teas are the smooth but strong flavored Chinese blacks: golden monkey, higher-grade Yunnan, Adagio's Fujian Baroque if my budget is too tight for the more expensive teas, Twinings Prince of Wales when it's even tighter (or the Wegman's labeled Yunnan-based English Breakfast which they no longer carry). I really like the Darjeeling oolongs I've had from both Adagio and Upton but that's a bit of a special case and for the sake of argument I want to look at more traditional oolongs. In greens I like the sweet, nutty and the toasty - kukicha, li zi xiang (Adagio discontinued Li Zi Nutcracker :( ), hojicha, and here I'll also re-list the Upton Tindharia estate Darjeeling oolong which had the sweet chestnut flavor like the Li Zi Nutcracker did. I'm not a fan of very "grassy" greens, and while they're good, I'm not too interested in greener oolongs. I remember when I was first trying Adagio samplers that the wuyi was quite strong and rather different, but I forget whether I really liked it - I may have to revisit that. I also don't like flower-scented teas much except they go well with certain foods (like Jasmine and Chinese roast duck).

So given all that, what should I try? I don't live where there are many good tea shops, so I mostly order online. I won't dismiss very expensive suggestions offhand and will probably order samples but moderate priced varieties are more practical.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby virago_ns » May 30th, '10, 13:23

Iron Goddess of Mercy is a good dark Oolong, and you have to love the name :D
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby debunix » May 30th, '10, 16:31

Elle wrote:I like oolong tea. But I love black tea. I'd like to find an oolong to love just as much and I'm looking for suggestions.


Oriental Beauty and Ting Tung are Taiwanese oolongs that might seem very familiar to a black tea drinker: I think of them as quite similar to the fruitiness of a black tea without the bitter bite that requires the cream and sugar. I've gotten a very nice version of an Oriental Beauty relatively inexpensively from Yunnan Sourcing.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby shah82 » May 30th, '10, 18:42

Teaspring--Zhu Hai Jing Ming and HouDe (out of stock) Hao Xian are both black teas that can be pretty functional gongfu and both have oolongish characteristics. Neither is free of bitter.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby Elle » May 30th, '10, 19:00

Bitterness isn't really the issue (in black tea it's really more harsh tannin tastes like ceylon that I dislike, and I drink all my tea except chai, herbal and iced without sugar, or just a drop of honey in some greens), and can be controlled somewhat by futzing with brew times. I'm still doing western-style longer steepings and drinking out of western-sized mugs but I have a yixing or yixing-like teapot now which is what's inspiring me to ask.

I've had ti kuan yin before - Adagio's, and the stuff Wegmans carried for a while. I've just never had a Chinese/Taiwanese oolong that's made me go "wow" like certain black teas have. (Meaning, you'll have to be more specific about sourcing it.) So either I've yet to find the one for me or I need to adjust the way I brew and drink them. The other teas mentioned, I haven't tried and will look at. Keep them coming!
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby debunix » May 30th, '10, 20:38

Have you had a new style/green/low oxidation oolong yet? Like an AliShan oolong or a Tie Guan Yin or a BaoZhong?

Or any Dan Cong?

Those were certainly Wow! experiences for me.

The best are not cheap, but there are very nice ones that aren't as expensive, and they do have the advantage--at least with the better ones, certainly with the dan congs--of many infusions per brewing, so that you really do get more out of a given weight of leaf than you do from black tea.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby Elle » May 30th, '10, 21:24

I've had Adagio's TGY and jade oolongs, I did say I was not looking for green oolongs though. I've had pouchong and I think it's maybe too light and subtle for me. (And as a side note, since most of my tea is consumed in the morning, it's easy for me to miss the 180 degree point in the kettle without a thermometer and alarm, especially if I'm going around sleepy and making breakfast at the same time. And my probe thermometers are infamous for their calibration going off.)

I finished a sample of Adagio's Dan Cong recently and it was good, would probably buy the style again. Was I getting all I could out of it? I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time telling the difference between "average" oolong #8 and "premium" oolong #40. With the Dancong and the huang jin I started playing around a bit with brew times and amount of tea trying to get different effects with a little bit of success. I had a friend who's an oolong fan (who's very close with the proprietor of her Seattle tea shop and gets deals on stuff I never could, lucky bastard) who suggested once maybe the tea wasn't actually the highest quality - I don't know about that either.

I do also do multiple infusions, though not gongfu style.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby debunix » May 30th, '10, 21:44

Hadn't gone all the way back through the thread to see the 'no green oolong' note.

I'd be surprised if there wasn't a 'wow!' green oolong out there for you, but there are plenty of others to check out if that isn't your thing.

Wuyi oolongs can be dark, spicy, fruity, earthy, sweet: the best are phenomenal, the cheapest can be 'eh'. If you want the most flavor, you need to pay more for the better grades--I don't think there's any way around that. I've enjoyed a nice basic Wuyi oolong from Rishi and a Big Red Robe from Wing Hop Fung, but have gotten more enjoyment out of Shui Xian and Rou Gui from HouDe, and several Wuyi teas from Norbu--Da Hong Pao, Shui Jin Gui, and Ban Tian Yao--of those, I preferred the Shui Jin Gui and Da Hong Pao a bit over the Ban Tian Yao, but all were good. I'm very much looking forward to a Shui Xian from Jing Tea Shop but haven't opened it yet.

I've only had Dan Congs/Phoenix mountain 'orchid' oolongs from Tea Habitat, where they're quite pricey, but also quite extraordinary. The ones that Imen recommended to me as my first to try were a 'commercial' honey orchid phoenix oolong, and a 'Ba Xian' eight immortals dan cong. I loved them both and can heartily recommend them. Unfortunately the web site is down right now for orders.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby Proinsias » May 30th, '10, 22:03

Buy some oolong that looks like black tea from a recommended vendor.

Methinks you want roasted Wuyi or obviously aged oolong.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby NOESIS » Jul 7th, '10, 15:38

I'm in the same camp as you are. You'll want a more highly oxidized oolong. I'd go with a Da Hong Pao or Oriental Beauty.
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby entropyembrace » Jul 8th, '10, 17:00

Try some of the Wuyi or Dancong oolongs from jing tea shop (the Chinese Jing) or some of the oolongs from Floating Leaves Tea which are described as being roasted or having a thicker body.

If you want to try a greener oolong that will impress I recomend trying some of the Anxi oolongs from Jing Tea Shop or green oolongs from floating leaves tea.

And if you really want to spend money for an experience there are the dancongs from Tea Habitat... :shock:
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Re: Oolong Tea for Black Tea Drinkers

Postby geeber1 » Jul 8th, '10, 18:56

I drink mostly black teas, but in Oolongs tend to favor the "greener" ones. The more roasted styles don't appeal to me much. IMHO darker / roasted doesn't necessarily mean it's closer to black.
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