Review of A-Li-Son Oolong Tea

8 of 105 of 55 of 587 of 100

Now and then I buy tea loose-leaf tea in Chinatown, Asian import stores, and other specialty food stores, and I am often disappointed. However, this one was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting much: I bought 100 grams of this Alishan Oolong for $7, which seemed extraordinarily cheap. I've had better Alishan Oolong, but I honestly can't say I've ever had any Taiwanese oolong of this quality for such a low price.

The dry leaf is intensely aromatic, although less floral than a lot of high mountain oolong. Not many leaf buds: this is mostly large, mature leaves, but honestly? I sometimes like it like that.

I've tried brewing this one many different ways, and the results are remarkably consistent whether I use more leaf and make many brief infusions, or make two longer infusions. The leaves are not tightly rolled but are quite slow to unfurl, and I find, even given ample space to expand, will often not unroll completely until the second or third steeping. It's a waste if you only steep this tea once! Unlike some oolongs, which change radically from one infusion to the next, this one stays fairly similar in each infusion.

The aroma is honey-like, and floral, with a hint of skunkiness. I have come to like Alishan more than Dong Ding because it has darker tones in the aroma, and this tea is no exception. The flavor is exceptionally sharp (in a pleasing way) relative to the light, clear color and the milder aroma. Strongly bitter, but with very little astringency or sourness. Exactly how I like my tea! Upon drinking the cup the floral aroma becomes more intense.

The floral qualities are remarkably persistent into subsequent infusions, and if you let this tea steep a long time, it becomes stronger and more bitter, but does not become overly astringent.

This is a versatile tea and I was quite surprised it was available at such a reasonable price. I am eager to try more loose teas from this brand and see if they are also of the same level of quality.

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