Monday, September 19, 2011

Pomegranate Oolong (caffeinated)

I don't normally go for flavored black tea. I suspect the tea itself of being a lesser quality, "tarted up" with some kind of fruity aroma. But I trust Harney & Sons, so I got a sample packet of their Pomegranate Oolong.

Oolong is a funny sort of tea. It's somewhere between green and black, and is usually pretty light in color when brewed, but full of flavor. Great care is taken during the curing process to only partially oxidize the leaves, so what we have here is a natural process halted. H&S likens it to keeping a ripe banana from getting any riper. I suspect that there is an exquisite moment -- a peak in the flavor -- that happens in the oxidation process, and the Oolong is supposed to capture it.

In advertisements for the ballet, or modern dance, you often see a dancer who has been photographed in mid-action, poised in defiance of time. The Oolong aesthete must regard his cup of tea similarly.

I brewed this tea at 203F for three minutes. It didn't seem strong enough so I brewed it two more minutes. The tea was nice, but when I opened the drained teapot to sniff the damp leaves, there was a richness of aroma there -- vanilla, fruit, banana even, among green and brown woodsy notes. I was sorry this didn't carry into the tea more; drinking it was a lesser experience than smelling those brewed leaves! The pomegranate flavor was nice, light enough to let the flavor of the tea come through, but definitely a presence I could recognize and that stayed on my tongue minutes after the final sip.

Caffeine hit was a 6 out of 10.

A pretty good value by the pound: $24. A pound of this tea will make 150 to 160 cups of tea, so each cup costs no more than 16 cents.

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