~Formosa Oolong & Yixing~
A few weeks back, I went to the Adagio store in Naperville, Illinois in search of a nice oolong tea that I had not yet tried. One of the employees (Kristen), who has made many good recommendations to me in the past, told me that she really liked it the “Formosa oolong” or “Oolong #8, which is a a heavily oxidized (dark) oolong tea from Taiwan. I gave the tea a smell and thought is smelled mysterious, and I mean that in the best possible sense of that word. Kristen offered to brew some for me, but I said that I trusted her judgment.
I tend to favor the lightly oxidized oolongs, but seeing as how I was in the mood for something new I thought the darker Formosa would might be exactly what I was looking for. The fact that the tea was very inexpensive (only $5.00 for a 2 oz. bag) made it very easy for me to justify the purchase.
When I got home, I attempted to brew the tea in a Yixing teapot that I reserve for the darker oolongs. The resulting brew was very flat, which was not at all what I expected. At first I thought that the leaves just needed to “wake up”, but the second and third steeping, which are usually the best, had only a hint of oolong flavor, and remained extremely flat.
Needless to say I was disappointed.
I put the Formosa in my tea cupboard thinking that I’d trade it away at some point….
~Time Goes By~
A few weeks went by and Mei and I had a guest stay with us for a few days. Our guest was interested in tasting many of our loose leaf teas, so I brewed her several different kinds of teas Lao Ren Cha style. When it came time to try a dark oolong, our guest smelled my (limited) collection of dark oolongs, and picked the Formosa as the tea she wanted to try, based on its lovely scent. I warned her that the earthy perfume of Formosa had drawn me in as well, but when I brewed the tea I had found it lacking. Nonetheless the guest wanted to give it a shot…
Because all the other teas that our visitor had sampled were brewed in Lao Ren Cha style, in a gaiwan, rather than using Yixing teapots, I brewed the Formosa in the manner as well.
When I took the first sip of the Formosa I expected everyone to be disappointed by a flat tasting liquor. However, everyone, including me, was very pleasantly surprised by a very warm, full bodied, complex, and flavorful tea.
- Sometimes the Yixing teapot is not the way to go.
- When the Yixing fails, try a gaiwan!
- Before writing a tea off, make sure to try brewing it a different way.
I’m very happy I gave the Formosa another chance. It was a good tea indeed.