As discussed in our sourcing post for Batch 71 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club, Hong Oolong is a name that was given to a hybridized processing method that is a combination of Oolong and Black Tea making. And, as may be expected, the character of this tea embodies just that — a composition that has both Black Tea and Oolong qualities. It has a rich fruity aromatic profile that is tangy/sweet. The flavor profile has notes of stewed apricots and plums, with a mellow balanced composition. And it has a fragrant, dry finish that is distinctly Oolong in its character.
The appearance of the brewed tea also reflects a merging of Oolong and Black Tea characteristics. It maintains the bright, transparent aspects of a well made Oolong, with deeper reddish tones. The color is lighter than most Black Tea types, and the flavors are lighter as well. It's a more delicate complex character than Black Tea, but the flavor notes are similar to Black Tea.
Hong Oolong has been well received both here in Taiwan and in the international tea community. It is a friendly and accessible character of tea that is easily appreciated by newbies and veteran tea drinkers alike. We feel that this batch of Hong Oolong is special in that is more akin to a traditionally made Oolong than to a Black Tea. The Hong Oolong that is commonly found on the market is very similar to a Small Leaf Black Tea. It tastes almost the same as Black Tea made from small leaf type cultivars. This batch of tea was made the same way a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong is made, with the additional step of rolling the leaves before the tumble heating step.
We can see from the brewed leaves above that they resemble an Oolong Tea much more than a Black Tea. The bulk of the leaves still maintain their structural integrity, indicating that they have not been rigorously rolled, like a Black Tea would be. Only a portion of the leaf material was torn and squeezed to expose the sap, resulting in a more thorough oxidation. Most of the leaf material was treated with the skill and tact that an artisan Oolong Tea is made from. We feel that this is a more specialized batch of Hong Oolong in this respect.
Watch the tasting video below for the full visuals and story behind this batch of tea!