A new favorite emerges! Mountain Tea's Black Pearl Oolong.
This was a sample I grabbed this bleary-eyed morning because, well, because it was close at hand. Now I cannot believe I have not tried it sooner. I used four grams in a 120 ml gaiwan, at temps ranging from 200 down to 190f. The first six steeps were absolutely fabulous. As usual, I did not time my steeps but they were pretty standard gungfu times, 30 seconds and perhaps a little longer as the brews began to thin out after the sixth steep. Mountain Tea says one will 'marvel' at the savory mouth-feel, and marvel I most certainly did. They also write that notes include, 'baked apple, apricots with cane sugar in the aftertaste.' Yes, indeedy. So I guess the way this tea is produced creates this balanced, medium-bodied dark oolong with a medium-heavy liquor. Very much appreciated by me first thing in the morning. A perfect level of depth to start my day, yet not so complex I couldn't sit at my tea table for an hour greedily steeping and re-steeping brew after brew and gulping down tiny cups of total-yum. Mountain Tea, whose webpage descriptions are written like friendly terrific learning lessons from someone who really cares says, "The key difference between green, oolong, and black teas are not the ingredients, but production techniques. Look, specifically, at the process of oxidization. Green teas are not oxidized at all, black teas are 100% oxidized, and an oolong can run anywhere in between. Black Pearl is a heavily oxidized oolong tea; showing off the qualities of the best black teas, yet still retaining the multi-layered complexity of an oolong." This is a first rate, (as if I would know, but it is how I feel,) full bodied whole-leaf oolong that goes to the top of my short list of things to buy right away. And in all further sessions I will continue to honor this tea by only using the gaiwan so as to not miss out on any of the pleasures it so kindly offers. I love my Yixing, my Jian Shui, my infusers, but this tea deserves to be seen and I don't want to let those leaves out of my sight.