Adagio - Oolong Tea Wuyi - 15 Pyramid Tea Bags (0.8 oz / 23 g)
Adagio Wuyi Oolong Full Leaf Tea pyramid tea bag contains wuyi oolong tea from the Wuyi mountains in the Fujian province of China. Wuyi Oolong grows defiantly in the gaps of the mountainous rock, rendering cultivation both arduous and spellbindingly beautiful. This tea is famous for its 'dragonfly's head, frog's limbs and three colors.' The latter refers to the green, red and brown colors found in the cross-section of each leaf. Similar to other fine oolong teas, Adagio's 'Wuyi Ensemble' may be infused a number of times, with each infusion revealing a new nuance of this tea's complex flavor.
About Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea is one of the most time-consuming teas to create. It utilizes all of the five basic steps, with rolling and oxidizing done repeatedly. These teas are anywhere from 8% oxidized to 80% (that's measured roughly by looking at the amount of brown or red on the leaf while the tea is being made). The leaves are gently rolled, then allowed to rest and oxidize for a while. Then they'll be rolled again, then oxidized, over and over. Over the course of many hours (sometimes days), what is created is a beautiful layering or "painting" of aroma and flavor. Oolongs typically have much more complex flavor than Green or White teas, with very smooth, soft astringency and rich in floral or fruity flavors. Because of their smooth yet rich flavor profiles, Oolongs are ideal for those new to tea drinking.
The WuYi Mountains are found in the north-western part of the Fujian province of China. They are a collection of jagged-edged peaks, nearly always blanketed in clouds and fog. It is here, between the rocks, where one of China's more famous teas is cultivated. WuYi 'rock' oolongs grow defiantly in the gaps of the mountain boulders. These teas are highly prized for their 'yan yun' or 'rock taste', and only the real WuYi teas grown from these rocks - not teas from nearby hills or flatter landscapes - will have that mineral flavor. A Royal Tea Garden was established here as early as the Yuan Dynasty, with each harvest offered in tribute to the Emperor.
Goal: Perfect Cup
No matter how expensive the tea you buy, if you brew it wrong, it's awful. This is a lesson many beginners learn the hard way. Many people who claim they "don't like the taste" were actually repelled by an incorrectly brewed cup of tea. This can create a terrible misconception that can last a lifetime... and can also be easily avoided with better brewing techniques.
Many restaurants, cafés and households that serve tea try to cut corners by simply throwing all teas into the same temperature water and serving visitors without any direction. This makes about as much sense as opening a premium wine bar and serving white wines at room temperature, or opening a prime steakhouse and serving all steaks well done.
Steeping good tea does not take a PhD, but it is also not as simple as chucking it into boiling water and letting it stew. There are easy ways, however, to steep the perfect cup. The trick to steeping tea correctly comes in five parts: water, weight, temperature, time and equipment.
Perfect water isn't necessary, but if your water "tastes funny," so will your tea. If your water tastes great (or does not taste at all depending on your perspective), you should be in pretty good shape. Great water will have around 150 parts per million (PPM) of balanced mineral content. For perspective, extremely hard water in several major U.S. cities is around 900+ PPM. To correct this issue, a conscientious tea shop will usually use a rather expensive reverse osmosis filtration system and a calcium carbonate cartridge to introduce the proper amount of mineral content to the water. At home, you can use a simple carbon filter water pitcher to remove the extra mineral, as well as any contaminants like chlorine.
Water that is too hard (too many minerals) will extract extra astringency from your tea and give you a harsh brew. Water that is too soft will not extract enough of the polyphenols that deliver astringency, health benefits AND taste and you'll have a weak, muddy cup. Fresh water is also best. When water boils, oxygen is released. The Chinese call water that has been boiled "dead water". You can't get the best cup of tea from water that has been repeatedly re-boiled.
Using too much tea will make your tea bitter and your wallet empty. Too little tea will bring a weak cup and a sense of longing. The volume that is considered the "golden ratio" of leaves to water is one teaspoon of most tea leaves (approx. 3 grams) per 8 ounce cup of water. Please note this is for a traditional 8 ounce cup. Most mugs are around 10 to 12 ounces. Here's where it gets a little complicated. A large, open leaf tea like a White tea or some Oolongs may require two or more teaspoons to equal 3 grams. Broken or tightly rolled teas like Gunpowder may pack significantly more into a single teaspoon. At the end of the day, perfection is less important than keeping an eye on the leaf size and adjusting based on your taste preferences.
Some like it hot. The ideal temperature depends on the tea. Use boiling water (212F) when preparing Black, dark Oolong and Herbal teas. These teas are tough, they can take the burn, and even require it in order to break down the leaf and release the flavor. However, it's important to use cooler water when steeping more delicate teas, such as Green, green Oolong and White teas. Water that is too hot will cause a delicate tea to taste overly bitter or astringent. Water that is too cool will cause a tea to taste flavorless and weak. If you don't have a thermometer or a kettle that lets you gauge temperature, you'll typically find that boiling water that is allowed to sit for 5 minutes will have dropped to roughly 180F.
They say that "time heals all wounds." However, it also makes most teas turn bitter. The rule of thumb is 3-5 minutes for most black teas (depending on your preference for strength) - any longer, and they'll become overly astringent and puckery. Dark Oolong and White teas, on the other hand, are much more forgiving. These teas will taste best when steeped for 3-5 minutes but will still be drinkable if steeped a little longer. For light Oolong and green teas, a little TLC must be employed, steeping for only 2 minutes - 3 minutes, if you're looking for a strong cup.
The proper equipment is also very important in the steeping process. When hot water is added, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves some leg room. If using an infuser basket, use as broad and deep of a basket as possible for the pot or cup you're brewing in (some barely extend a quarter of the way below the surface of the water). Commercial tea bags are not recommended, due to inadequate expansion room and low quality tea. Which brings us to our final point. It almost goes without saying that, to make the perfect cup of tea, there is one more prerequisite: good tea. Buy the best that is within your budget. It will make a noticeable difference. The perfect cup is out there... just brew it.
Lower in Caffeine than Coffee or Cola
Originally called "theine", caffeine was first discovered in tea in 1827. It was later shown that the "theine" of tea was identical with the caffeine of coffee, and the term "theine" was then dropped. While the caffeine in tea and coffee are, technically, identical, the experience is different due to three key factors:
- There is significantly less caffeine in the average cup of tea - especially when including green and white teas, as these are brewed at shorter times and cooler temperatures.
- L-theanine, an amino acid found only in tea, has a relaxing effect that counteracts the jitteriness of caffeine without reducing the increase in alertness.
- The high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow the body's absorption of caffeine - resulting in a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.
Matching Tea with Food
Exploring the world of connoisseur-level teas is as intoxicating as that other beverage: Wine. For wine lovers, the current fashion is not to insist that whites pair up with poultry nor drink only reds with meat. This has led to many adventuresome pairings and new taste sensations.
Fortunately, teas pairings are also open to exploration. Anyone who says blacks are only for entrees or that greens must stand alone, haven't had the pleasure (or perhaps the opportunity) to pair a wide variety of teas with every part of a menu.
Greens like Dragonwell or Sencha are wonderful with seafood or fish fillets, salads, or chicken. Blacks like Ceylon or Assam from India are soft accompaniments to beef or steak dishes or spicy foods from Mexican, Italian, or Indian cuisine. Although it is traditional to have Oolongs with Chinese dishes, one may argue that rich black Yunnan or Keemun teas offer more complexity and layers to the experience of tea pairings.
Formosa Oolong and Pouchong teas seem to demand solo drinking, quiet, and something restful to look upon. However, oolongs are delicious in many foods. Try them to flavor liquids used for cooking rice or grains. They add a wonderful punch, and like all tea, no calories, sodium, or sugar!
For desserts, seek out the chocolaty essence of a Golden Monkey. This exquisite Chinese tea is hearty, rich, and tastes perfect when infused into baked custards, chocolate cakes, or drunk as a beverage with a rich dense strawberry shortcake. Assam is another rich black tea that complements chocolate desserts yet is a surprising foil against lemony or custard dishes.
As a digestive, nothing is better, more satisfying or more calming than an aged Chinese Pu-erh, the darker, the stronger, the better. The only intentionally aged tea, it is particularly good after a multiple-course feast like a Thanksgiving or similar heavy holiday meal. If you're a milk-and-cookies snacker before bedtime, try a Fruit Medley herbal infusion instead. You'll sleep better, and will wake up feeling great.