Tea review: Milk Oolong 

Now that we’ve discussed some of the basics of tea and tea equipment, it’s time to get into our first review before we move on. No one likes all theory and no fun.

The first tea I want to introduce you to is Milk Oolong (or its Chinese and much more difficult to pronounce name Jin Xuan Wu Long). The reason I’ve chosen it – apart from being one of my favourite teas – is that it’s a very popular one with non-adventurous tea drinkers while still being a very different brew to their daily cuppa!

This tea usually originates from Taiwan, though you will find some produced in China too like the one I have, and it takes the name from its natural milky taste. You’ll also find some Milk Oolongs are flavoured by steeping the leaves in milk before the firing stage to intensify the flavour.

How to enjoy Milk Oolong

Dry leaves: small dark green pellets with a potent buttery smell

Milk Oolong dry

Water temperature: 80 degrees (or just as the small bubbles are starting to come to surface in the kettle). Always use freshly poured water!

Amount: 2g or about half a teaspoon. Make sure you give it enough space to brew because it unfurls into really big leaves.

Brewing time*: 2-3 minutes

*Asian cultures have a different method of brewing tea. They make many short brews (e.g. 30 seconds), bin the first one and consider the true aroma and taste are only revealed after the third brew. However, in the Western world we don’t really take (or have) time for tea ceremonies all the time so I’ve adopted the Western brewing method in all my reviews.

Wet leaves: unfurled dark green leaves with lengths of 3-5 cm – Yes! Learn more about your wet brew by smelling and touching and studying the wet leaves. It might sounds weird, but trust me! You’ll learn more about the quality of it and what makes a particular blend a good one.

Milk Oolong wet leaves

 

Brew: It’s a pale yellow colour and I like to say it smells like buttery popcorn! You don’t get the grassiness of a green tea, nor the astringency (that feeling that your mouth is dry and bitter). Instead, you get a very smooth drink with mellow tones and a comforting aroma. If hugs would be a drink, they would be a Milk Oolong.

Milk Oolong Brew

Ready to try it?

If you’re interested in giving it a go, the tea I reviewed above is from Whittard. I have a local Whittard store about 100 metres away from my home so most of my tea comes from there; it will be a name that pops up again and again!

You can buy it on this page or in their store, priced at £6.50 (at the time of writing) for 50g, which should be enough for about 25 cups.

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Discovering new teas: white and oolong

In the past two posts, we covered the two most popular types of tea in the Western world: black and green. Although you might not be familiar with them, a full introduction to tea would not be complete without covering white and oolong tea.

White tea

White teas are the most delicate of teas because they undergo the least amount of processing after plucking. This is also why they have the most amount of antioxidants so if you’re looking for a drink that is healthy and can help (not drive) weight loss, white tea is the best! It is a speciality of China and they only go through the withering and drying stages.

If you remember that leaves went straight to the firing process for green tea, they are left to wither in the case of white tea, just like black tea. This process reduces the moisture naturally by drying them out in open air, but instead of 18-30 hours needed in the black tea process, now they get to relax for 48-60 hours. When the moisture level is at about 5%, they go through the drying process like the others did.

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White tea from Teavana: Silver Needle

Oolong tea

Oolong (sometimes called Wu Long) is the resulting tea from a combination of the black and green tea processes. If you imagine a scale with black tea on one end and green on another, oolong is somewhere in the middle, though more towards green. That’s because it’s semi-oxidised, so it follows this order:

  1. Withering (like black and white) for a period of 1-4 hours, then cooled down. Repeat twice!
  2. Oxidation by gentle stirring (rather than rolling over high heat in the case of black tea)
  3. Firing between 30 seconds and 5 minutes to destroy the enzyme that causes oxidation
  4. Rolling and drying when the leaves are still warm so they’re more flexible
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Oolong tea from Teavana

As I know all I’ve explained is a lot to take in, I thought I’d make it a bit more visual.

tea-processes

You might be thinking, that’s all great, but when do we actually get to do some drinking? A theoretical tea blog is probably not what you signed up to read! Rest assured, that’s next time on White, No Sugar.