Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Oolong all the way from the Rohini Estate in Darjeeling

The test for my new teapot has been to brew a few Oolongs that I simply couldn't enjoy prepared in my normal teapot. The first one I tried, and it was much better, was a Jun Chiyabari Oolong from Nepal. Not sure why it tasted so much better steeped repeatedly in this brown clay pot, but it did.

I'm hoping that the more I experiment with these different teas, the more infusions I'll be able to get. Earlier this year, I got some Darjeeling Rohini Oolong from Teehaus Shila in Hamburg. I've briefly mentioned Oolong from Darjeeling before (the Himalayan Oolong that Darjeeling Tea Express sent me was quite good), but because I couldn't brew the Oolong from the Rohini Estate to taste very good, I assumed Oolongs from Nepal or Darjeeling simply weren't of a very high quality. Am beginning to see that the problem lay more with me than with the tea.

Here's how the leaves looked at the outset:

If I hadn't tasted this tea, I'd say the leaves looked like a typical Darjeeling black tea. This tea was anything but.

The first infusion was light, but there was something a bit malty to the taste. I steeped the second infusion too long and although it was a bit bitter (something I rarely experience with Oolongs), I noticed a taste that I normally associate with Formosa Oolong. It was almost a bit of a burnt flavour.

The third infusion was where I under-steeped it after going too long the time before. Nevertheless, there was a bit of a mint aftertaste. Very light, but definitely there. Only on the fourth infusion could I detect a bit of vanilla. I've never tasted vanilla in an Oolong. Quite a surprise.

Here's how the leaves looked after the workout I gave them:

For the next week or so, I'll be in France for the New Year. Cannot wait to report on the Tea Salons in Nice and whether there are differences between tea drinking there and in Paris. Stay tuned.


  1. Nice for New Year?
    It can be nice, too bad I am way too up, otherwise I would have invited you for a cup of tea.

    Do you think that with more experience but the same items, you will be able to brew your tea more?

  2. I haven't been impressed by many oolongs from the Himalayan region (Darjeeling or otherwise) but I have consistently noticed that these teas are difficult to brew. In particular, they often demand a lower brewing temperature than one would expect for oolongs, or even for green teas. Some of them seem to behave a little more like a silver needle tea.

    Have you tried using a low brewing temperature on any of these teas, especially any of the ones that had qualities that you dislike? I'd suggest trying it if you have not yet done so! You may be surprised.

  3. Ice, not just more but better, and it's exactly what Alex was talking about in the next comment. These Darjeeling Oolongs seem to last longer if you brew them with water at 80° C. No idea why but when I try hotter water, it last for only one or two steepings (1 1/2 is my average-by the second, the tea is nearly tasteless).

    There seem to be some teas that are quirky like this. The opposite seems to be the case with the Taiwan Oolongs I like most. The leaves look so delicate, but they'll really take boiling hot water. Almost seems like they love it.

  4. We are involved in the production of semi fermented teas in both Gopaldhara and Rohini Tea Estates, Darjeeling.

    We started doing this since November 2006 and to help us improve further we would request you to provide us with the invoice number of the tea from Rohini that has been mentioned in your blog.

    Please stay in touch with shivksaria@gmail.com