Review of Saimo Assam Summer Organic Artisanal Oolong

9 of 105 of 55 of 593 of 100

A fascinating and really enjoyable tea that was unlike any oolong I have ever tried before, but still shared some of my favorite qualities of oolongs. This tea had a soft and gentle quality, like the edge had been taken off relative to the green or black Assam teas I have been sampling recently.

I had no idea what to expect, trying this. My prior experiences with oolongs produced outside of China and Southeast Asia, however, are limited, and have been pretty strange, with many of them being disappointing. This tea stood out among this landscape. Thank you to TEAORB for this sample!

The dry leaf looks nearly exactly like a Wuyi oolong, dark and twisted, but smells completely different: mildly of camphor, a lot like some of the Assam greens I've sampled from TEAORB, but softer and with less edge. It smells more like a very young Sheng Pu-erh than an oolong, but the color is extremely dark, darker even than some black teas. I found it interesting that when I came back to sample this tea a second time, the leaf smelled stronger and sweeter; usually a tea smells strongest the first time the container is opened but this tea was noticeably different.

Upon steeping, I was surprised to see the leaf had turned a much lighter color, a sort of olive-green (lighter than TEAORB's picture suggests), and the brewed cup had developed a fruity fragrance, suggestive of melon. The first sip is remarkable...mild, smooth, honey-like. Subtle, with vegetal notes and hints of roast, but overall, less vegetal than both the green and black Assam teas I've been sampling recently, and less roasty than most roasted oolongs. As the cup cools, the aroma becomes more evident, pleasantly herbaceous and a little more like Sheng Pu-erh.

Flavor is soft...a honey-like sweetness vanishes and re-emerges. There's a balance of sweet and bitter qualities. This tea tastes a lot like wild-harvested teas I've tried, although aspects of it hint at qualities of some Wuyi oolongs.

The second steep tasted more like a sheng Pu-erh, with the softness of a tea that had been aged. I found this tea worked best with only two steeps, going 3-5 minutes on the first and 12+ minutes on the second, although some people might prefer using more leaf and briefer steeps.

Very easy to drink. Seems only mildly caffeinated.

I thought this was a remarkable tea...much better-executed than a lot of oolongs I have tried, produced in regions outside of China and Southeast Asia. Not cheap by dollar price, but I think this is a bargain given how unusual and well-executed it was. I highly recommend this to oolong lovers who want to try something genuinely new.

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