Saturday, June 22, 2013

Finding Drinkable Tea In Oklahoma City Pt. 1

Please join me for my first in a series of tea excursions, this one into the deep dark clutches of Oklahoma City's 'Classen Curve'. I shall try to fetch some drinkable tea without having to place an online order and wait for a week. My first trip will be Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods carries a nice selection of loose leaf tea, when compared to other options in OKC. I want to check on their black tea and their oolongs. I have taken a Ceylon from this store. The Ceylon whole leaf tea sold at Whole Foods in OKC is almost exactly like several of my favorite estate ceylons like Kenilworth. The price is competitive, and the bonus is there is no shipping. It is a very brisk and refreshing tea. My blog post called "Upton Teas I Have Ordered The Most" goes in to slightly more detail about this type of tea.

Oolongs are not my favorite, and I cannot drink them for a morning tea, but I do enjoy them, especially with sushi. Pictured above is the oolong tea in the baggie. I used 2 large teaspoons in the infuser basket, and it was brewed with the fine tap water at my OKC office that makes all of these wonderful teas! Here is a closeup of the tea just before being dumped into the teapot.

A nice choice it was, a poached salmon roll with Whole Foods finest oolong.

It pleasantly brings several things to my nose that I enjoy with these teas; the nutty, earthy flavor associated with formosa oolongs, and the floral scent of the Chinese oolong. This one is actually the Rishi Wuyi Organinc Oolong. From their website..
"The Wuyi Mountains are the birthplace of oolong tea and the Shui Xian "Water Sprite" tea bush cultivar. This sloping, mountainous appellation, with mineral-rich soils, produces teas with a smooth mouthfeel and pleasant aftertaste. Wuyi teas are classically roasted to develop a sweet, caramelized flavor."
The flavor comes forward immediately with this tea, nutty and fresh. After a few more sips, some depth comes through, and the lighter, sweeter notes are revealed to the nose and palate. It is easy to tell that this is not a lower quality oolong. But, unlike very fine oolongs, its flavors are quickly noticeable, and it does not have to be prepared gong fu style to experience its finer flavors.

The wet leaf is still large and doesn't fall apart after the infusion, revealing more about the high quality of this oolong. It still holds a nice aroma and I felt I could probably brew one more smaller cup reusing this leaf. It would probably work well prepared gong fu style.

Nice experience, both the tea and the sushi!

Now, here is the bag of the Rishi Golden Assam.

Here is the closeup of the Golden Assam. You can see there are lots of golden tips in this tea, and they are still in tact and unbroken.

The estate assam is pricey even for a fancy grocery store such as Whole Foods, but it does make a nice statement about its quality upon first steep. It was pleasing to see the froth layer in my leaf basket. The aroma from the teapot filled my section of the crowded office with brisk, velvety notes. It offers depth for the picky palates such as mine, and has some caramel and mocha notes that I like. The golden tips are beautiful to admire in the teapot, and certainly add to the very nice depth of this tea. The flavor is comparable to some of the single estate teas that I have bought online, but more like the modestly priced assams, and not quite up to par with some of the higher priced whole leaf assams I have tried in the past. I'm not ready to call this the best tea in OKC yet, but it is going up for consideration.

Soon I will be off on my next tea search. I have a few leads and ideas, so expect a report soon!

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