Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fanciest Formosa Oolong (caffeinated)

Fanciest Formosa, ready for its closeup

This was one of Harney & Sons' more expensive Oolongs, costing $2 per cup when bought in the 2 oz size; if you bought it by the pound, you'd pay $1.44 per cup. (Their costliest is currently Top Ti Quan Yin, only available in a 2 oz. tin for $54 -- you'd get 20 to 25 cups of tea from that tin. More than two bucks per cup!)

It would be a shame to compare it to the Pomegranate Oolong I had yesterday. This Fanciest Formosa was in a different category, transcendent. I brewed it at 203F for the first brewing and 208F for the second brewing, both timed for four minutes. The first brewing had it all: a light peach aroma, plus other exquisite fruit notes I couldn't identify, and a beautiful half & half presence of black tea and green tea. It was so good and so delicate at the same time that I devoted at least five minutes to the gradual consumption of this tea. I used my most refined teacup, held it in both hands, and took reverent sips. I can see why this tea is prized.

The second brewing took the peach/fruit aromas down about 80%, but preserved the half-and-half black/green tea balance completely.

I experienced the caffeine hit at a 5 out of 10, but since I got up before dawn today, the tea might really be a 6 for a well-rested person. Today, Tuesday September 20, is an overcast day with a high of 70F and a low forecast at 64F; rain due in the afternoon. A soft weather day, streaked with chilliness when the wind blows; a little dreary. And since I spent my morning in the museum-quality atmosphere of the Upper East Side, "fanciest" appealed to me most among the choices I had, as well as the Oolong's full taste but gentle weight.

"Formosa" is the old Portuguese word for Taiwan. It means "beautiful island."

According to Wikipedia, the name oolong comes from the Chinese for "black dragon tea," 烏龍茶. (Characters are linked to the Google Translate page. Try the "Listen" button to hear the pronunciation, which I hear as Oo loung cha; tones 2, 3, and neutral, respectively.)

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