Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review: Tea Forté, Formosa Oolong '09

I didn't sleep last night, and I spent a big chunk of today outside, in the cold, at Goebbert's Pumpkin Farm, along with my baby girl and my little boy. Goebbert's is a farm that has gone the clever route of agritourism, in which they celebrate harvest with, among other things, the world's only Pumpkin-Eating Dinosaur, a haunted house, mazes, a couple giraffes (in north-central Illinois, no less), a pumpkin cannon, apple cider donuts, a cornstalk maze, and even pig races. (Hammy Faye Bacon won by a hair, incidentally.) The baby was warm because she was bundled emphatically, with all my bundling might; and my seven-year-old boy was racing around. So I'm the only one of the three of us who is cold and tired, and feeling just a bit old.

ANYWAY, to warm up and attempt to get through the long, dark afternoon of the soul, I am drinking Formosa Oolong by Tea Forté. It is in a clever nylon pyramid-shaped teabag, and I think the leaves within it are in pretty good shape.

Hidden within a tea bag, I can tell very little about their appearance. The steeped leaves have a pleasant enough, sweetly roasted aroma. I don't really think the nylon bag affected the aroma. The tea bags reside inside a pyramid-shaped card-stock paper wrapper, and they have a cute metallic string with a little leaf on the end. Stylish looking and neat. Typically, none of the teas I enjoy are distributed in tea bags, so I don't have much to compare this to.

I used just-under-boiling water (around 195 or so), in a covered, glass cup, for about 3 minutes. The Web site suggests 2-4 minutes, so I'm right in the zone.

A transparent, brown liquor with a roasty aroma. The flavor does not really work for me. I noticed an odd flavor note that makes me think of a paper bag. Now, I know that the nylon bag has nothing to do with this (not being made of paper, of course), but nevertheless there's something there I can't quite account for. Very light mouthfeel.

I don't really want to belabor this review with the history of oolong, or the significance of Formosa tea-making practice, nor the proper place of teabags in the enjoyment of my favorite beverage. The thing is, I don't enjoy this tea, and I find I haven't finished the cup. I wonder if the paper packaging failed to protect these unfortunate tea leaves from off-flavors it might have picked up in transit or in storage. I'd be interested to taste this again, if I knew it was freshly packaged and stored in airtight foil. I don't think my leaves gave me the same experience that was had by the distributor when they first received their shipment from the tea farms in Formosa.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

It's rather unfortunate that a tea that carries a name referring to beauty tasted like a paper bag. Although I did enjoy the flavor description-A very creative way to identify a taste.