Tag Archives: Taiwan

An All-The-Oolong-Day Moment

I’ve been so entrenched in my Green Tea Party, that I decided I needed to pause my clique-ish behavior and try to make some new friends. Naivetea has been busy recently with some new and exciting teas, and I took the opportunity to take a day and make it all about Oolongs.

I began my day with Li Shan Oolong, which is grown in the highest altitude tea farms in all of Taiwan. Knowing this tea was so exclusive only made me feel that much more elegant as I experienced this lovely, delicate tea. It has the lightest floral perfume, and a soft sleek feel. The best word that comes to mind is refined. Sipping this delight, I almost felt underdressed. This is a tea with presence. A Lady Diana of teas.

As I journeyed forth through my day, I continued with a cup of Da Yu Ling. I have to say, it is truly remarkable how Oolongs that are both grown in similar regions can have such distinct differences. This tea had a smooth, almost buttery feel with that signature, yet mellow, floral perfume. The difference, however was in the tiniest peppery hint that brings to mind evergreen forests. As it was a rare, chilly autumn day in Southern California, this felt like the perfect choice.

As I made my way through the lunch hour, I chose to have a little fun and try the Kyoho Grape Oolong. As I opened the package, I was struck by the scent of grape Jolly Ranchers! Once I added the hot water the scent took on a level of sophistication that fused the grape with the floral. This is a robust tea, very full, and almost had the essence of grape Kool-Aid, though I don’t mean to cheapen the beautiful flavor. I was just amazed at the fact that a tea could maintain a profile of grape without that over-sweetness I associate with fruit teas and infusions. This was a perfect balance of grape and floral notes that was satisfying, but with a bit of playfulness.

And as the day approached evening, I was ready for something light. White Peach Oolong sounded like just the ticket. What a way to close out my day! This light and smooth Oolong had just a whisper of peach with no fruity aftertaste – a triumph in my book! As the rains continued, I lounged happily with my cup of sunshine. One word of caution – take care not to oversteep. I made this mistake once and encountered a slightly metallic taste. However, the greatest beauty of this tea is its ability to be delicious hot or cold. Some of the other Oolongs can take on an astringent quality as they cool. This Oolong is beautifully smooth hot or over ice. I can’t wait for the California sun to re-emerge so I can fully appreciate White Peach Oolong on ice!

A good day. A very good day. New flavors and fragrances accompanied me through the day, and not a stinker among them. Naivetea continues to surprise and delight.

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I Long, You Long, We All Long For Oolong!

I am a die hard fan of black tea and black tea blends. This is no secret. And over the past year, my new friends in the tea community have helped me to open my eyes and palate to other teas, much to my delight. My newest tea exploration is into the world of Oolong. I was unwittingly plunged into this adventure by Naivetea – a new face in the tea world, who has already made quite an entrance by not only launching the Oolong-focused brand at the 2009 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, but also winning first place in the Blended/Flavored Oolong category for their Lychee Green Oolong. (You can read my ‘Moment’ with this award winner here.)

In order to truly immerse myself in the world of Oolong, I chatted with the founder, Lawrence Lai, to learn as much as I could about his fascination with this particular type of tea. His easy, comfortable manner made me like him immediately. No pretention here! He shared about his early love for the tea during his childhood in Taiwan, watching his parents and uncles drinking Oolong, something Taiwan is known for.

Now having lived in the United States for many years, he and his friend, Tony Wu (who still lives in Taiwan), began discussing how they could introduce this tea they enjoyed so much to a wider U.S. audience. After working with some choice facilities in Taiwan, with an eye for the highest quality and practices as well as best flavors, Naivetea was born.

Their infused teas, in particular, are enchanting. As Lawrence said, “Infused Oolong is a good way to introduce people to Oolong. They are very friendly and can be enjoyed hot or cold.” He especially loves seeing the surprised faces of first-time Oolong drinkers. They typically have no idea they will enjoy the flavors so much.

I can say I am among those who approached Oolong with skepticism. And as has happened frequently in my explorations this year, I am happy to say I was so, so wrong. Oolong. Where have you been all my life?

This photo showcases the US corporate team.  As Lawrence introduced them, the two little ones, Chloe and Egan, are the supreme executives, Ann is  the lovely spokesperson, and Lawrence himself is proud to have been named employee of the month 8 times in a row!

Lawrence noticed I was still getting over a bit of flu when we visited, so he recommended drinking the Osmanthus Oolong, a high altitude Oolong infused with natural osmanthus. Osmanthus has a refined, floral fragrance, that is not over powering or overly grandmother-y. Don’t be fooled by its medium golden color. This Oolong is smooth and full of body.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I could even see myself having this in the morning to start my day! It is considered to have great healing effect in Chinese medicine.  Even without the health benefits, this smooth and buttery tea is now a must-have for my tea cupboard.

I asked Lawrence what was his favorite Oolong this week (you can’t possibly expect anyone to have a one-time favorite! With so many options, a favorite tea is a moving target!), and he laughed and said he was currently really enjoying the Mint Oolong.  For him, the mint and sweet finish seems to go with the holidays. I savored this tea and agree it goes very nicely with the holiday season – a light gold liquid, minty fresh and fragrant, this one will invigorate you as you finish your shopping, baking or decorating! For green tea lovers especially, you must try.

But my very favorite is the Rose Violet Calendula Oolong, a high altitude Oolong infused with natural rose, violet, calendula and jasmine. I’m typically not drawn to overly floral tea blends, but this was such a subtle bouquet of light, sweet scents, I was not overpowered by any of these potentially bold flowers. Not only was the fragrance an aperatif for my nose, the slowly unfurling leaves and bursts of violet blossoms in my steeping cup plunged me into a visual feast as well.  Oh, the first sip. Glorious. Smooth, with the slightest whisper of sweetness, this tea took me to my happy place immediately. Serve it at a bridal shower, a baby shower, or during tea for two between you and a closest friend, and I guarantee the world will seem shinier and happier, if only for the hour. Or on my own, reading a favorite book… this new friend is sure to be a life-long companion.

Releasing color, flavor and fragrance in a most delightful way.

I long, you long, we all long for Oolong!

Thank you to my Oolong mentor, Lawrence, and both the US and Taiwan corporate teams! America, it’s time to welcome a whole new world of Oolong with open arms!

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