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4 May 2012

Review: Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea

Author: DaisyChubb | Filed under: Review, Tea

Milk Oolong. What can I say about Milk Oolong. Well, if you’ve never tried a Milk Oolong – it is an amazing experience. A strange experience, but… wow. My first Milk Oolong (DavidsTea’s Quangzhou Milk Oolong) rendered me speechless (almost), and I quote:

“My first Milk Oolong :) It’s delicious. But I can’t rate it yet, because I don’t really know what’s going on in my mouf. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest, even after reading every single review.It is buttery, creamy, milky and very spinachy on the first steep. (2.5 min) I really don’t know what’s going on, but I do know that I like it. Just perplexed! Like nothing I’ve ever tried before. Second Steep (3.5 m)- yep, even better than the first, as is the consensus. Even creamier, mm it’s sweeter too. But I still don’t understand! I’ll just sip.”

To be honest, what I thought was speechlessness and a misunderstanding of what I was supposed to be tasting – is actually just an honest experience. This is one of the first self-taught lessons I learned about tea: There’s nothing to “understand” or ANALYZE until your brain hurts and you’re frustrated because you “just don’t get it”. Or you taste something that no one else tastes and that is somehow wrong – so you have to wrinkle your forehead and search for that One Taste. Where is the spinach? Am I supposed to be tasting grass?

No – don’t be fooled! That’s not what tea is about (see disclaimer at bottom of post), and it’s certainly not what my reviews are about. What the title “review” means on my blog, is simple yet complex. It’s the experiences I have drinking tea. The certain tastes and smells, but also the feelings and memories they can evoke. Tea is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It’s meditative and calming, yet invigorating and energizing! Of course, it’s also delicious.

And that brings me to my review of Teavivre’s Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong. I am very grateful to have received 5 free samples from Teavivre’s Facebook page! They were mailed from China and I had to sign for them – first time I’ve ever had to do not, hopefully not the last :D   I knew this one had to be the first I tried. What I love about a Milk Oolong is its creamy, buttery flavour. Almost like a condensed milk sweetness with a light vegetal taste. Of course, every Oolong is different, Milk Oolongs included!

What makes this Milk Oolong unique is not only it’s base (Jin Xuan) but also the fact that it has no added milk flavouring. Many Milk Oolongs are flavoured with an edible milk flavouring (some even claim to be ‘natural’ but have the added flavouring anyways). This does not bother me – I looove flavoured Milk Oolongs. They have a strong creamy texture, and a taste which is to die for. Teavivre offers both the ‘straight’ and flavoured versions of this particular Oolong – but I was more than happy to try the unflavoured! This is a first for me, which is always exciting.

I decided to brew this one in between Western and gong fu style – I only had enough for one cup so I wanted to make it last! I started out with shorter steeps, and as I went on the steeps got longer with slightly hotter water. (The package suggested to start with boiling water (212 F), but that’s not my usual so I’m going to start a little cooler.

The smell was unmistakably “Milk Oolong” and a bit floral. I checked the website, and the floral in this particular offering is Osmanthus. Yum. I’m a fan! The leaves were very tightly rolled and vibrant deep green.

1st steep: 195 degrees F. 30 seconds after initial 3-5 second rinse.

Mm the first steep is nice and subtle, but there is a wonderful smooth feeling to this tea. It’s slightly sweet, and feels light. Not light on flavour – but not as ‘heavy’ as other Milk Oolongs I’ve tried. I’m getting floral notes (that’s the osmanthus scent) and it is vegetal (think spinach), but not a hint of astringency. Smoooth is all I can keep thinking about. As it cools, it’s refreshingly cream-like.

2nd steep: 200 degrees F. 1 minute steep.

This steep does have a bit of astringency to it, but not enough to make it bitter. Still smooth and very flavourful. The liquor is a deeper colour this time around, and almost syrupy (in a good way!). The aftertaste this tea leaves in your mouth is amazing. I don’t know if I can quite describe it – all I know is a good aftertaste is a sign that this tea is good quality… and might just have a future in my collection. ;)

3rd steep: 212 degrees F. 2 minute steep.

Wow! This is by FAR my favourite steep! Before I knew it, I was staring at the bottom of my empty cup. Sadness! The bitter notes were totally gone, it was creeeeamy with a buttery taste that I’m surprised I couldn’t coax out of the first steep. This tea surprised me! Still subtle, but very delightful.

4th-5th steeps: 212 degrees F. 3-5 minute steeps

I did have to take a break and leave the leaves (ha!) in the fridge to start again the next day, but it was worth it. The tea did start to become astringent and sharp, but only as the tea cooled. I couldn’t coax more steeps out of this one as I sometimes can – I started to lose flavour on the 4th steep but kept going anyways haha.

 

The price point for this tea is very reasonable. At just over $10 for 100 grams, you’re looking at a lot of cups of tea my friends. Compared to my favourite Milk Oolong, this is a big difference. DavidsTea’s is around $10 for 25 grams, and although this is not my favourite – it is cutting ‘er REAL close. I forsee an order from Teavivre in my future, so thank you again to the company for the free samples. Looks like they’re paying off already n_-

 

Recap:

1 1/2 tsp tea

6-8 oz water

multiple steeps

western meets gong fu

creamy, delicate, subtle, floral, smooth, milky

Disclaimer: Tea, as with most things, is a completely subjective experience. I don’t know what Tea is about to you – I’m just sharing what it is to me. The same goes for the rest of my blog/website. Think of everything I write ending with: “In My Opinion”, and we’re good to go.

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6 Responses to “Review: Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea”

  1. Great review!! I really enjoyed the summary pictures at the end too… very tempting!

  2. Awesome. I didn’t know this variety existed, and this post was an interesting primer to them. Creaminess is something that interests me in a tea, as I’ve never enjoyed the addition of cream or milk as much as many others (outside of when steeped within) but enjoy that quality.

  3. DaisyChubb says:
  4. Thanks Kristin and Evan! I should send some milk oolong your way, it’s really unique. And you guys like green tea right? It’s a green oolong so it has grassy qualities that I think you would enjoy. I miss you!

  5. Wow what a great review. I have never tried a milk oolong but I will now! Thanks again.

  6. DaisyChubb says:
  7. Thank you very much Dan!

  8. Quinn Fisichella says:
  9. Different varieties of oolong are processed differently, but the leaves are formed into one of two distinct styles. Some are rolled into long curly leaves, while others are ‘wrap-curled’ into small beads, each with a tail. The former style is the more traditional of the two in China.^;-.

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