OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!


"Official Tea Tasting Initiative" Teas shared & discussed.

Re: Phase II. Now that you have the Oolong!

Postby Chip » Jun 19th, '10, 14:32

Greetings OTTI participants!

Hopefully you will be receiving your teas very soon! All packages went out Thursday and Friday with one exception. This was quite an undertaking, 3 OTTI-s at the same time. Note to self, don’t do that again!

This was also exasperated by several unanticipated delays, most notably a vendor who was most uncooperative and who I will be posting about shortly. Also there was a problem with the packaging! So, I did have to majorly improvise this time around! My apologies! Hopefully the packaging will be fully resolved in time for the next OTTI.

So when you receive your OTTI, I would suggest opening it up and placing the samples into more packaging. You can place the samples in their current wrapping directly into a canister or a vendor foil bag.

The packing is a bit of a balancing act. I would not want to over extend thus significantly increasing the participants cost for the OTTI-s, but the packaging was NOT as planned and will improve!!!

So, look for improvements there. This being the first rounds, there will be a learning curve. I am open to constructive comments, suggestions!

OK, now on to the TEA!

Remember to post in the OTTI topics!!!

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Re: Phase II. Now that you have the Oolong!

Postby Chip » Jun 19th, '10, 15:33

OTTI Round 2 Oolong! Some of these I never tried before ... so we learn and experiment together!!!

Be sure to use all your senses in the tasting, smelling the dry leaf, observing it dry and wet, again smelling the brewed tea, etc.

There should be 4 samples, plus a bonus selection. So 5 total. The primary players in this OTTI are the 3 Adagio Masters Green Oolong, namely Masters Ali Shan, Fujian TKY, and Taiwan Pouchong. So, that is the first and primary focus of our OTTI #2.

Each sample contains virtually 8 grams of leaf with a few exceptions, so if you use half for each session, that is 4 grams. I am offering the leaf ratio I used for each, however you can adjust according to your taste.

The 4th sample varied a bit as did the bonus selection! They should all be interesting selections and include one darker oolong as the 4th sample. Some received Rishi's Bai Hao Hsinchu which I quite enjoyed. Some received Adagio's Dan Cong which is a very approachable Dan Cong. And others received an aged Zhong Shan Baiye. Might have been one more?

For the bonus, most participants received "similar" Adagio Oolong to the 3 Masters Green Oolong, namely ... their regular Ali Shan (their first ever Ali Shan) and Huang Jin Bolero (similar to a TKY).

After this was depleted, I made sure everyone received an interesting bonus anyway! Some received Ancient Tea Flowers which are actual flowers from ancient tea trees used in Pu-erh production in Yunnan ... this tea does not fit into any normal "type" but is something that the few lucky particiapants should enjoy.
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Re: Phase II. Now that you have the Oolong!

Postby Chip » Jun 19th, '10, 16:18

Brewing. OK, I have brewed a LOT of oolong, but I am more of a greenie as everyone knows. Thus please chime in with your ideas and how your way is different. My temps tend to be a tad cooler as well, the influence of liking green teas? So, there is not a strict right or wrong here, adjust to taste, experiment ... AND HAVE FUN!!!

Brewing vessels. I will be using a gaiwan or gaiwanesque (gaiwan for dunmmies ... or gaiwan with panache depending on who you ask). On ocassion I will use glass for increased observation of the unfurling of the leaves.

How much. If you have been on TC long enough, you have likely heard the term ratio used in determining how much leaf to use. A ratio is simply general or preferred strength that allows increasing and decreasing of either leaf weight or volume water while keeping the strength steady.

Generally, the longer you have been drinking oolong, the higher leaf ratio you will use. Newer to oolong, you will generally use lower ratios. But give the higher ratios a try!

Your leaf ratio is calculated X grams leaf : Y ounces water. If you fill in the grams at 4, you can adjust the amount of water to find your ratio. Or you can fill in a value for the water and adjust the amount of leaf. I am suggesting using 4 grams leaf for each session and adjusting the amount of water. And I offer corresponding amounts of water below based on using 4 grams, rounded off. This will also give you 2 full sessions, just use half each time.

1:1 4 grams : 4ounces water. I would call this semi gong fu. You can offer alternative suggestions!!! You will know you are in the ballpark if the leaves virtually fill the brewing vessel after a few steeps.

Or you can eyeball oolong pretty easily. Fully covering the bottom of your vessel is about right for the "balled" oolong. Half full or even more is about right for the wiry, fluffy oolong.

But for actual tastings, many brewers want it a bit on the precise side, then they will brew more casually with later sessions.

(then again, oolong can be brewed in a semi Western style as well)

Temperatures! This is so subjective. I have observed those who like darker oolong also tend to brew their greener oolong hotter than some who I would classify as green tea drinkers. So, this will be an area of some debate!!!

Temp wise I will share what I do, and by all means, other participants may offer alternatives. For greener oolong I simply pour the boiling water in to a cooling pitcher and then intuitively pour this over the leaves when I feel the temp is right.

Darker Oolong, up to boiling.

Time for this semi gong fu ... around a minute. I judge by aroma mostly, and somewhat by color.

Problems: Too intense, decrease leaf. Too bitter, decrease temp and/or time. Cooler water makes for a less aromatic but sweeter cup.

Multiple steeps. Absolutely! A good rule of thumb for me (you may need to adjust) …
2nd 185*, 30-60 sec
3rd 190*, 60 sec
4th 195* 60-120 sec
This is something I do not really regulate closely, just kind of go with the flow.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong

Postby Proinsias » Jun 19th, '10, 17:33

For those new to gaiwan brewing Marshaln's video might be worth a look. He's brewing tie guan yin and talks mainly about oolong brewing.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby nickE » Jun 20th, '10, 20:01

Nobody has posted a review yet... Guess I'll be the first! :D

Adagio Fujian TKY

Dry Leaves
Balled as expected, very green. Smells light and floral.

Aroma
Very sweet almost like sniffing a rose, some notes of honey as the cup cools.

Liquor
The soup is a light & clear yellow, almost green in parts.

Taste
Very light and floral. Buttery thickness both in flavor & mouthfeel. A light, flowery huigan lasts a while after taking a sip. Almost no bitterness.

Wet Leaves
Quite large & coarse, also very much intact, which is a good thing.

Overall
This is a very enjoyable tea. I would definitely consider putting in an order to Adagio for this. 6+ infusions, too!

Suggestions
I found that this tea works well with lots of leaf and slightly longer steep times than you would expect. Also, this tea handles boiling water quite well, especially after the first infusion.

Here's some pics for reference. I hope you enjoyed the review!
Image
Image
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 20th, '10, 22:55

Thank you nickE for getting the ball rolling and for the photos. Glad you liked this one.

Keep 'em coming! :mrgreen:
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby brian » Jun 22nd, '10, 00:31

Oolong is in the house! I'm going to sit back a bit on this one, I'll work through the shincha first. I have no experience with oolong so I'll wait for more reviews and hopefully some suggestions on how to treat these teas. Guess I'll finally learn how to handle a gaiwan!
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby geeber1 » Jun 22nd, '10, 21:22

Yay! Got my Oolongs today. It's like Christmas only better!
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby nickE » Jun 23rd, '10, 00:51

Chip wrote:Keep 'em coming! :mrgreen:

Bai Hao Hsinchu

Dry Leaves
Long and wiry, varying colors. Light & sweet citrus scent.

Aroma
Pungent Citrus-y smells, reminds me somewhat of FF Darjeeling. Quite strong.

Liquor
Every infusion was darker than the last. Starting with a clear yellow and ending in a deep orange.

Taste
Lots of orange peel with a smooth vanilla back. Pungent, sour, sweet, tangy. Powerful & lasting huigan even though there is no bitterness.

Wet Leaves
Heterogeneous blend of colors, leaves are mostly intact. Very small and connected in multiple leaf systems with quite a few stems.

Overall
I definitely like this tea. It has an extremely interesting flavor profile that is hard to describe. Quite harsh, an Oolong that doesn't mess around! :lol: It looks to be pretty expensive on Rishi, but perhaps it is worth it.

Suggestions
For reference, I started with 195F water for the first infusion and boiling for all following. Steep times- 40s, 20s, 30s, 60s, 90s. About half a gaiwan full of dry leaves (less than you might think) produce a nice pungent brew.

Image

Thanks Chip for this sample, an interesting experience! :D
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 23rd, '10, 13:09

Thank you for sharing with us, nickE! Nice review! I like the format that you are using.

I need to get posting here! :mrgreen:
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby qiao2zhi4 » Jun 24th, '10, 13:26

Chip wrote:Thank you for sharing with us, nickE! Nice review! I like the format that you are using.

yep, very nice!
hope to use this kind of format too, if you permit to do so ...
and
hopefully soon ... :roll:
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby nickE » Jun 24th, '10, 15:35

qiao2zhi4 wrote:
Chip wrote:Thank you for sharing with us, nickE! Nice review! I like the format that you are using.

yep, very nice!
hope to use this kind of format too, if you permit to do so ...
and
hopefully soon ... :roll:

Please feel free! :D

It's not exactly original or anything, just everything I thought was important.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby Geekgirl » Jun 25th, '10, 15:00

Started off this round with the Adagio Master Series Pouchong. (AKA: Baozhong) As I understand it, pouchong is usually the least "handled" of the oolongs, and as such, should primarily include whole, twisted leaves that retain much their dark green coloration even through a multi-steep brewing session. My other experiences with high quality baozhong are inline with this observation. A high quality baozhong will also feature mostly leaves of a similar size.

Most of the tea of this sort that I purchase comes from one of two sources: Floating Leaves, or New Century Tea Gallery, both in Seattle. I've purchased a few amazing teas from them, and never one that was less than excellent.

Adagio's MS Pouchong is good (and at nearly $200/lb, it should be exceptional,) but not nearly up to the quality of any of the hq teas I've purchased from these two "local" vendors. The teas I've purchased were in the $100-$200/lb range. There are leaf samples in this review. The comparison leaf shown is FLT's Baozhong Honorable Mention from last year's harvest, it was steeped 3x. It has been stored cool, dark and mostly airtight, but it IS 1 year old tea.

I'll let the pictures do the talking, then post a few more thoughts.

Adagio:
Image

FLT:
Image

Adagio: Left, FLT: Right
Image


Dry leaves:
You can see that the color of both teas is similar (KIM that FLT is > 1yr) both dark green. The first thing that is obvious is that the Adagio tea is not uniform in leaf size, nor is it comprised mostly of whole leaves.

FLT's on the other hand, are mostly whole, with almost zero little broken bits, tea "dust", etc.

If I had received the MS pouchong from another source, I would have wondered if the package was repeatedly crushed. But these were well packaged, and no signs of delivery manhandling, so I must assume that this is a standard sample.

Post-brew leaves:
Adagio - Many of the leaves are torn, possibly cut. Some leaves are quite large, while others are small.

FLT's on the other hand ($140/lb IIRC) is extremely uniform. You'll have to take my word, but I didn't pick and choose leaves from the gaiwan. Both brewed leaf samples were the first ones I took from the bowl.

Taste: This is still a good tea, though IMO, if you have access to a good shop or another source, this tea does not make the grade. While it has a good "green" flavor, floral and smooth, there are undertones of the type of bitterness and astringency you get with broken leaves, which are not present in a higher quality tea.

If this were being sold as a standard grade "good" quality BZ, in the sub-$100 range, it might make my list. I have to admit that I am skeptical when a US tea company tries to make the transition to fine teas from blacks, blends and flavors. IME, the teas being offered seldom measure up to small vendors and traditional teashops. Sadly, this tea has done nothing to adjust that perception.

coffee poppet is unconvinced
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby plant partaker » Jun 26th, '10, 01:59

First oolong I brewed was Adagios TKY. My method was western style. I used 4 grams of leaf to 4 ounces of water. The temperature for the first brew was 180 degrees steeped for 5 minutes. It was not at all strong to me. I really was disappointed. reminded me of oolong no.18 that Adagio carries. However, the second infusion was brewed with boiling water steeped for 3 minutes. The profile of this steep turned out to be more satisfying IMO. The smell is sweet and the taste is refreshing and sweet as well. I can taste a floral character in it as well. I would have to say hotter water less time works out better. :wink:
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 3 Master of the Oolong ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 26th, '10, 02:02

Thank you for your reviews Geek and Plant Partaker. :mrgreen:
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