Well this is a surprise! Yesterday’s tea was What-Cha’s “Ceylon Idulgashinna Hand-Made ‘Blink Bonnie’ Oolong Tea“, and at the time, I didn’t realize that I ALSO have in my new shipment this “Ceylon Idulgashinna Hand-Tied ‘Nightingale’ Oolong Tea“! And, for the next one… ooooohhhh, I can’t tell you now… I’m too excited! I love it when I can compare teas from similar origins and see how different they are! This is gonna be fun!
The first thing I notice when I open the package is the aroma which is stronger and fruitier than the ‘Blink Bonnie’. It was sweeter and more malty, but this one weirdly has both tangy fruit notes and chocolatey fudge notes. I can’t imagine what it will taste like.
The second thing I notice is the awesome unique shape of the tea! I am always amazed at the creativity and ingenuity you find in these hand-made teas… all so different and interesting. These little bundles are like little rolled up pillows that have been pinched-in in the centre. I would love to see how they are made because they look like they have been tied in the drying process, but there are no actual ties evident here. I kind of want to crush them in my teeth, just to feel the crunchy, layered texture as it crumbles. But I won’t. That would be weird. Right?
The package says to steep 3-4 pieces per cup, but I’m using 5 because I’m a rebel that way. I steep it in a basket filter for about 3 minutes which seems long to me, but the tea is such a light colour, I think it needs the time to develop. It smells sweet like honey.
The first sip is very very mild. I almost can’t taste it. It has the lightness and sweetness of a good ‘silver needles‘ tea, but in the aftertaste there is a chocolate-maltiness that just makes me want MORE! I really want to re-steep the leaves for longer, to see if I can intensify the flavour. The fudgey aroma is stronger than the actual flavour. It’s very gentle and delicate, but the sweet notes of chocolate are there.
I steep cup 2 for about 10 minutes. Neither the colour, nor the flavour deepen noticeably. The tea is a pale tan colour, and the flavour is a very mild sweetness. I’m a bit disappointed with this tea, since the dry leaf smells so good. I really want to love it, but it seems I will need to steep it another day with several more pieces. I’ll try again and let you know if it makes a difference.
I open up one of the steeped ‘bundles’ and am surprised to find that it contains 5 whole leaves, tightly rolled, including a couple that have 2 leaves and a bud. It’s a lot of leaf in one tight little package! I can’t wait to try it again tomorrow and see if I can get more of that delicious cocoa/malty flavour to come through.
**UPDATE** May 7, 2016
Just changed the prep on this tea and it is FANTASTIC!! This time I used 12 pieces, near boiling water, and steeped it for a good 5 – 6 minutes. The colour came up a nice golden honey brown and the aroma was amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!! Sweet honey and cocoa. The flavour of this steep was just beautiful with a gentle honey sweetness, notes of cocoa, and a bit of nuttiness, like sweet almonds. It’s so interesting because it’s at the same time, both light, and luscious! I want to tell you about the gorgeous velvety cocoa, but it’s also light, airy, and clean.
The second cup (steeped 10 min) has less of the nutty and cocoa tones, and more of the floral notes coming through. It’s a completely different cup, with light, clean, floral and ‘tea’ flavours. Still, there is no bitterness or astringency. This is really nice! I’m so glad I finally got this one right because it is simply awesome!