I could use some taste-guidance....


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

I could use some taste-guidance....

Postby Drax » Nov 1st, '08, 09:01

So... I really apologize for this post, but I need help.

I'm drinking my second oolong tea here (Adagio's ali shan). Again, this is the second oolong (loose leaf) that I've had.

Both times, my first few sips, the first word that pops to my mind is "soapy." Now, I realize with time my brain will (hopefully) reassociate this taste with "oolong" instead of "soapy" -- but my question, I guess, is -- what's my brain getting confused? I'm tasting something in there that's triggering that thought.

I'm hanging in there, but it's just been a little disturbing with those initial sips...

(And no, no soap has touched my pot... at least, to my knowledge, and I seasoned it before using it).
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Postby Chip » Nov 1st, '08, 09:13

The Alishan from Adagio has a sweet honey floral aroma, but I would not say it is scented soap-like. You are not the first person to have this reaction to greener oolong. If memory serves me right, Padre shared this reaction.

Sometimes a tea will trigger an olifactory response. Some darker oolong has triggered a strange memory for me, and it has been hard to shake.
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Re: I could use some taste-guidance....

Postby gingkoseto » Nov 1st, '08, 09:14

Drax wrote:Both times, my first few sips, the first word that pops to my mind is "soapy." Now, I realize with time my brain will (hopefully) reassociate this taste with "oolong" instead of "soapy" -- but my question, I guess, is -- what's my brain getting confused? I'm tasting something in there that's triggering that thought.

I'm hanging in there, but it's just been a little disturbing with those initial sips...

(And no, no soap has touched my pot... at least, to my knowledge, and I seasoned it before using it).


Heehee, this is not that odd. My husband doesn't like most oolong. Whatever I take as "fragrance and pleasant flavor", he would think that's some fragrant yet strange flavor he would not take for drink. He didn't use the word "soapy", but I heard other people saying fragrant oolong tastes "soapy", exactly the word. I guess, same tea may tastes differently in different people's mouths. There are also teas I can't bear with, that are loved by other people.

Definitely no soap has touched your pot. You may try to pay attention to steep time and not "over cook" the leaves. But if you already did that, then maybe you will love traditional roast oolong (more heavily oxidized and less floral or frugal fragrance) better.
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Postby Vulture » Nov 1st, '08, 10:49

Yah, I can't drink Jasmin teas because the smell and taste remind me too much of Jasmin soaps. Its mostly a mental association from when I was a kid.

Drax, a lot of times flowers are used to make the perfumes in soap. It could be the same mental association of the flower smell and soap like I am for Jasmin.
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Postby Drax » Nov 1st, '08, 11:32

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. I probably do have some association of the fragrant part of the tea with fragrant soaps or something. I did pick up the jasmine oolong, so now I'm really hesitant on that! :D

I know that it's not an overbrewing problem, because I've also tasted the first infusion (20s, which I usually dump) and it tastes extremely similar.

I'm on my 4th infusion now of this morning's brew, and I think I'm getting more used to it (and of course it's probably getting slightly weaker). As I experience more oolongs, I have a feeling I'll be able to work through the flavors a bit more. . . *cross fingers*
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Postby Chip » Nov 1st, '08, 12:12

Yeah, sometimes a new tea "flavor" just takes some getting accustomed to.
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Postby taitea » Nov 1st, '08, 14:03

And sometimes it's ok to just not like something.
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Postby Vulture » Nov 1st, '08, 14:05

taitea wrote:And sometimes it's ok to just not like something.


you can say that again!
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Postby Drax » Nov 1st, '08, 18:34

That is definitely good to remember, too. I'm in complete exploratory mode right now, so I fearlessly plow forward.

Actually, as I mentioned in the Daily Tea thread, I got to try some "Big Red Robe" oolong this afternoon. Much darker, in color, smell, and flavor. I enjoyed that tea much better. I'll continue the oolong dance a little bit more and then I'll make a hop to pu-erh...
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Postby taitea » Nov 1st, '08, 19:20

If you started off with blacks, then the jump to green oolongs is a pretty big one.
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Postby ABx » Nov 4th, '08, 03:25

Sensory association is a pretty powerful thing. Why on earth would it bother you? Each tea is going to have it's own unique profile, and to try to file them all under 'tea' would only detract from the experience.

There is no such thing as an 'oolong taste.' Oolongs run a wide gamut with a huge spectrum of tastes. The reason that most of us get into oolongs is because of that variety. The only real commonality is that they generally aren't grassy like greens or acerbic like blacks, but they are pretty much all very smooth.

I have found some of the Taiwan high-mountains to occasionally come out a bit soapy. I don't know why they come out like that sometimes, but it's usually not the way that they normally come out. I usually find that a good rinse takes care of it, but it sounds like you're doing that. You might actually try going a bit hotter by pre-heating the brewing vessel and steep it with boiling water. Yes, oolongs do benefit from boiling water. This should bring out more of the amino acids that make it thick, sweet, and buttery (umami.. like veggie protein). That may not sound appealing at first, but it is actually very nice and it should balance out the aroma.

If it still seems a bit soapy then you might wait until the weather changes a bit. Yes, seriously :) I have many teas that just don't come out right at certain times of the year. Some are insipid, some just lack aroma, and some have an unbalanced aroma. I don't get the soapiness enough to have found any real correlation but weather does seem to affect oolongs in various ways.
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