Osmanthus Chin Hsuan Tea
|Type of tea
Floral, as deep earthy flower scent (think mums, not roses) with oolong underneath the flower--if you've had milk oolongs before, "milky" is a good descriptor (smooth and rich)
|Where I got it
Taiwan, but you can find it online here:
TenRen's Tea site
$10 for about 3.5 oz (100g),
not including shipping
|How I brewed it
Water from a coffee machine (about 190 F) over 1 rounded teaspoon (sometimes 1.5 flat teaspoon) in a 12 oz mug, steeped for about 3 minutes
Holds up for at least 3 rebrews; haven't tried more than that, but good oolong is supposed to be rebrewed several times. Flavor slightly lighter second brew, with harsher notes faded, but still strong and complex
I would go to Taiwan just to get more of this tea.
Okay, that's a hyperbole, especially since it's available online. But if it wasn't, and I was going to Taiwan, getting more would be on the list of things to do, because for its price it's exceptional. Note that some of the other places that sell it online, such as Amazon, charge $20 for the tin, so I suggest buying through the main site.
The small is engaging and at least half, if not 75%, of the attraction. It's a balance between the earthy, fermented oolong and flowers--think peat moss and osmanthus (a Chinese flower that reminds me of the American mums that come out every fall, or even a bit of heavy sunflower). It's very relaxing, and something about it makes me feel connected to nature and/or anyone I've roped into drinking it with me.
As far as taste goes, it's light, and if prepared with a short brew and water under 190, just a bit sweet. Even fully steeped the color is a light gold. It's not heavy on flavor; if you want it strong (admittedly, I usually do myself), bump up the tea by an extra half-teaspoon or so. A little goes a long way, though, and 1.5 tsp usually fills my tea strainer 3/4 full by the time the tea has fully expanded. I'd say it tastes good, but on par with a good tea for its price range, so if you drink more for flavor than aroma, you'll probably still like it, but be less in love with it.
Like most teas, steeping too hot or too long can make it bitter; it's fairly resilient but not exceptionally so. On a scale of 1 (brew it perfect or hate it) to 10 (throw in the tea and some boiling water and then go do the laundry; it'll be fine!), I'd give it about a 6, with most teas falling in the 3-5 range.
If you like oolongs, I'd recommend this tea. If you've never tried oolong before, it's not a terrible place to start, so long as you enjoy floral teas (if you like both green tea and black tea, there's a good chance you'll like oolongs, since it's a light flavor but a strong aroma; if you don't like both, it's a 50-50); be prepared for a different scent than you're used to, since oolong teas are fermented. If there's a tea store near you that offers sampling, or one of your friends has some, I suggest doing a couple of tastings. Try it twice before you make up your mind, because it's kind of unexpected the first time you try it, so it helps to have a second tasting knowing what to expect.
(Learning to Like Tea Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Guest Post: Types of Tea, Guest post: Getting the Best Cup of Tea)