I’ve always enjoyed tea. But, having had a typical white-bread, middle-America life, I was never exposed to any good tea. But still, I’ve generally been one of the few people I know who prefer a cup of hot tea to coffee.
Recently, I’ve been really turned on to tea, much more than the casual interest I had before. I’m really quite intrigued by the culture (or cult) that surrounds it, and I find myself drifting in the general direction of a wannabe connoisseur. At this point, however, I’m a clueless (but adventurous) amateur who is trying to learn what’s good and what’s not. I’ve been exposed to brands and varieties that I never paid attention to before. I’ve found how good some of the British imports are that are so hard to find in the States. I’ve reached a point where the Lipton, et al. that I grew up on tastes like dishwater. I assume that’s a good sign.
I’m just trying to let everyone know where I stand in terms of knowlege of all that is tea. Enough to get myself in trouble, and not enough to stay out of it.
To the point…
Today, I was at the store doing normal everyday shopping. It seems that I can’t come home from one of these excursions without some new tea. (Although the choices at the corner supermarket are depressingly slim.) Today, as I went by the tea aisle, I saw some Oolong. It was Bigelow brand—their “Chinese Fortune” tea—something I was less than ecstatic about. But, it was the only brand to be found there on the Kroger shelf. They’ve got some decent black tea selections from Twinings and the like, but the Bigelow was the only straight Oolong they had. Had I been more patient, I could have made a trip to the snooty, upscale, overpriced, gourmet/specialty market down the road, and they would have had all kinds of choices. But I was there, and it was on sale. I thought, “at least this will help me figure out if I like it.”
So I got home and brewed a cup. Sugar, as usual. No milk, because it didn’t seem right to put milk in red tea, even thought I usually do so in black tea. It was okay…not unpleasant. But it smelled and tasted somewhat “woody.” It put me off a little bit…mainly because I wasn’t aware of that being a normal trait. It was definitely not the compromise between black and green tea that I expeted it to be. The second cup was better, but I didn’t brew it nearly as long.
Unfortunately, this experience hasn’t helped me figure out if I like it or not. Because I have this nagging suspicion that what I got was just substandard American schwag. So, did I get a representative sample of Oolong, or was this way off the mark? Anyone that’s had this brand and can compare it to other Oolongs: Is this Dom Perignon, or is it Boone’s Farm?