I finally got around to giving my new Oolong from Fairhope Tea Plantation a proper brew. Here are my thoughts.
The directions on the bag say to brew for 3 to 6 minutes, or western style, but if you know me, you know I like Gongfu style, so that’s what I did. I used about 210 F water and 5 grams of dry leaf. I did the first infusion at 20 seconds and played around with steep times after that. I also bought a new glass to use and tried it out today.
Right off the bat I was hit with the smell of flowers, specifically the flowers that grow here in the South that you smell in the summertime when the wind blows. I’m not sure what you call them but they are little white flowers that grow on shrubs. The taste of the first infusion was floral with that same flower taste, and a little bit sweet on the end. There was also a taste of what I can describe as musty, like old paper. It wasn’t a very pleasant note, but it was more subtle than the floral so it didn’t detract from the overall experience too much. The body was rather light but very smooth, with not much bitterness at all. And as you can see, the oxidation levels are very low and this was quite green.
As I noted in my tea trip blog, all tea from Fairhope is sun dried instead of air dried, which gives it a unique flavor. The leaves are not rolled but are left to dry flat or in their natural state.
I did the second infusion for 30 seconds, the third for 35, the fourth for 45, the fifth for 50, and the 6th for 60 seconds. I noticed the musty taste was very very faint by the third infusion and was gone by the 4th, leaving just a floral and sweet flavor, which was nice.
I have this feeling that the tea was just missing something, but I can’t quite pin it down. Maybe more leaf or different brewing times would put it over the top. It’s just lacking that last little bit of tea magic.
The cost of this tea was $15 for 3.8 oz., which is 108 grams, so at 5g per session, that is 21 sessions. That comes to $.71 per session, and 6 infusions per session comes to $.12 per cup, that’s 12 cents. That is a very good deal for that price.
Overall, this tea was good but not great. Seeing as how you have to go to Fairhope and buy it in Donnie’s driveway, I can’t recommend making that trip just for this tea. However, if you are passing through there or live nearby, I think it is worth the detour to get some of this, even if just for the novelty of having tea grown in Alabama. Cheers.