It is not often that I am surprised by the wonderous tastes of our teas. Lets face it, we have some pretty unique blends; many catch the eye as their beautiful, bold colours lure us in, while some of the more exotic ingredients are more obviously tempting. So, you may be asking why is this tea, milk oolong - which resembles nothing more than unadulterated green leaves – so special?
Easy for me to answer, and even easier for you, the drinker to discover.
From the first sip, you cannot ignore the overwhelming creamy, smooth flavour of homemade baking…rice pudding, sponge cake, shortbread. It is a warm, comforting treat, but not too sickly. Oolong teas contain moderate caffeine, so perhaps advisable not to drink it as regularly as you would a caffeine free tea; though it is of course, a great ‘pick me up’.
Oolong teas have an identity of all of their own. So, what makes them different to the teas we already know and love? It’s all in the process. As soon as you pluck a tea leaf, it starts to oxidize. Black teas are fully oxidized; green teas are plucked and swiftly processed with hardly any oxidization to keep the green and leafy quality. Oolongs fall in the middle and come in a variety of ways. Any tea that has been oxidized between 8 – 85% can be considered an oolong. When the desired level of oxidization is reached, and after the extensive processes of bruising, browning, withering, rolling, shaping, and firing are done (sometimes several times over), the last step to complete the oolong is to roast it, which captures its flavour cementing the level of oxidization. This last phase is unique to oolong teas and is considered the real art of oolong making.