Mystery Hong Oolong?

Before we get started I want to repeat that this blog is not intended to be an advertising platform for my employer. But I am working there for a reason: I love our range of teas. So it will happen from time to time that I'll write about a TeaGschwendner product - but not with the objective of promoting sales (no direct effect on my income). This time it is easy: I'll write about a sample my colleagues have not yet decided on (waiting for the analysis from our lab / quality control). Advertising? Hardly think so. But read on and judge for yourself.

 Today a busy week at work ended with a very pleasant surprise: one of our tea tasters came to my desk, saying something like "Hey, Gerooolong, curious about something new?" and gave to me a generous sample of a mystery tea. When I opened the bag and took a first glance at the leaves, I thought: 'Finally a dark oolong after all those greenish modern samples.' But my nose clearly detected malty and nutty notes usually associated with black tea (or hongcha, which explains this entry's title). So - what have we got here? My colleague refused to answer my questions and asked me to find out for myself.

All right, when the leaves got out of the bag, I found many golden tips - which I have so far never seen in any oolong except baihao. But the leaves are not as multicoloured as baihao are. Actually they look more like a dancong oolong which is more slender than usual ... plus the golden tips.

Smelling the dry leaves in the quiet of my tea refuge at home, there was an overwhelming sensation of malt. Not just the maltiness found in Assam teas, but the really sweet, spicy earthy malt used in breweries. There is also something nutty - somehow in between roasted walnuts and brazil nuts.

The liquid shines in orange hues ranging from autumn foilage to sunset skies. (Well this description should eliminate all doubts: I am positively besotted with this tea!)
It fills the mouth with (guess what?) sweetness and warmth. This warmth is not just temperature but a sensation like coming inside after a walk in cold rain.
Later infusions give a very slight acidic edge to the brew's sweetness - but once the sip is swallowed, only sweetness lingers in my mouth.

So far most impressions I got pointed to black tea. But I am currently enjoying the leaves' 6th infusion - which is still fullbodied though I used relatively few leaves.  This endurance is something I am not expecting from a black tea - seems more oolongish to me.
Speaking of the devil: with infusion #7 the tea turned rather bland. Still - what's now in my cup equals the second infusion of a standard Assam leaf.

Well, my guess is that this tea is made of an oolong varietal, produced in the techniques of an oolong - just giving the leaves time to oxidize fully. Something like this tea described on Tea Masters Blog.

The wet leaves seem to agree:

Perhaps it is time to remember that the Chinese categories of  Green, White, Yellow, Blue, Red and Black Tea was systemized only last century. Compared to millennia of tea history, the six categories are just a recent invention. Most of us tea nerds like to use this set of categories when blogging or discussing on internet forums. But there is always the danger of limiting your tea experience by sticking to stereotypes associated with these categories.
This tea is something I would like to see in our range - be it blue, red or even purple. I'm just happy I don't have to write the text for this tea's label. Instead I'll just enjoy the pleasure it gives me on a cold, grey, rainy day!


  1. Mich erinnert diese Beschreibung ein bisschen an einen Schwarztee, den ich probieren durfte. Dieser Schwarztee war so aromatisch wie ein Oolong, daher haben wir den auch mit Duftbechern zubereitet. Das Aussehen kommt sogar in etwa hin. Nur der Geschmack war anders und hatte überhaupt nichts mit Malz zu tun. Ich bin gespannt, ob ihr den Tee in euer Sortiment aufnehmen werdet.

  2. Do you talk here about this tea, "Java Hong Cha Lok" ?

  3. Sorry Anonymous,
    took me some time to realize there was comment unanswered on this post.
    Right you are! The sample I received in Autumn turned out to be our Java Hong Cha Lok
    When the tea hit our shelves, I immediately bought 100g of it. Good stuff, if I may say so myself about one of our products.

  4. Dear Gero,
    thank you for yur answer. I discovered this tea last week and liked it a lot - I think you gave a very good description of this fine tea. I hope this tea and the Anxi Oolong will remain in the range.