Today’s tea is one of my absolute favorites from the stash. I opened up 100 Years Tea Garden’s Medium Roast Oolong.
Chen (陳華胤) is a farmer in Lugu, Taiwan, who took over his family business but a few short years ago. He has returned to his father’s farm to try to recreate the flavors that he remembers drinking with his father as a child. While Chen is still very new to the game, he has many years to continue perfecting his craft. His current offerings are still some of my favorite oolongs in my stash.
Today I am brewing: 100 Years Garden’s 2017 July picked medium roast. I love that his packaging stamps on all of the information you could possibly need. I should also quickly mention that all of Chen’s oolongs produced on his farm are heavily oxidized.
Water is just off the boil, using 4.5g in a 80ml Taiwanese Zisha pot. I gave the tea a quick 10 second rinse (The pour is just about 8 seconds, plus the time it takes to pour and put the lid on) and the first four steeps I gave 20-30 seconds. I would like to also say that I have been drinking Taiwanese oolongs somewhat consistently since 2013, so I am relatively comfortable with my brewing parameters. I tend to “go with the flow” when brewing. I encourage any who think they can improve upon it to absolutely do so, and apologize if my descriptions are not as specific as you may have hoped.
Putting the dry leaf into the pot produced heavy notes of honey and melon. The first four infusions created a deep and almost cloudy apricot-orange liquor. These infusions tasted strongly of ripe stone fruit. Dark-red ripe cherry and peach being the strongest notes that came to me.
My favorite part of this tea, beyond how much sweetness lingers at the back of the tongue after the tea goes down, is how long the flavors stay in the throat. If you ever talk to Chen, he always loves to brag on this point; I would say he has earned the right to do so. His teas also have a gentle warming effect on the gut, which was welcomed on this cold rainy winter morning. Smelling the empty cup, I found even more honey and peach fragrance wafting up, PLUNDERING MY SENSES. I must say that while I can appreciate lightly oxidized DongDing and their more floral and creamy notes, I love heavily oxidized oolongs. Chen’s unroasted oolong alone is a treat – though certainly incomplete – rolling smooth down the hatch like shots of honey. Adding some charcoal roasting to it adds to the balance of flavors. Doing so provides a ripened stone fruit profile and nuttiness that is absent pre-roast.
In steeps four through eight, I knocked brewing time up to about 45 seconds. The liquor lightened up some, and was remarkably similar to the amber I remember as a child in Jurassic Park. Flavors shifted slightly, with honey showing through more prominently, while still holding on to those wonderful fruity notes. My last two brews I gave about a minute each. The later brews finally produced some astringency, as might be expected, but kept rolling out fantastic flavors, refusing to even slightly fade.
You could brew these heavier oxidized oolongs all day, and I am a terrible person for not doing so – but for the sake of this piece I stopped 10 steeps in. I do enjoy lighter oxidized oolongs, but hot damn these heavier oxidized babies GO HARD. Hallelujah!
If you want to learn more about Chen and his craft, contact him on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/hauying.chen?ref=br_tf