When we started to design our Tea & Tisane program, it was just like falling in love with coffee all over again. It took decades to develop, build, and show our deep love for coffee, and tea is going to be another longterm relationship. So let’s get to know our teas, starting with our Oolongs.
Oolong tea is a category of tea, just like green tea or black tea. Most Oolong tea is grown in Taiwan and China, and our Ruby Oolong was grown in Thailand. Oolong is a semi-oxidized tea, meaning that the tea is gently rolled and the leaves are bruised, allowing the essential oils to mix with enzymes while being exposed to air in a controlled environment with specific temperatures. Oolongs can range from lightly oxidized to highly oxidized (1% oxidized to 99% oxidized). Reminds of us the washing/drying process with coffee.
During oxidation, the interaction with air and precise timing helps to develop nuanced, complex flavors that range from light and floral to fruity and dark (sound familiar?). To stop the oxidation process, tea makers apply heat to the leaf. The leaf is rolled, shaped, then undergoes a final drying process. Some oolong teas are then roasted or baked to add additional complexities.
We have 2 Oolongs in our new collection, the Jade Blossom Oolong and the Ruby Oolong. The Jade Oolong is a lightly oxidized tea from Taiwan that has a luscious freshness (think honeysuckle and notes of tart, new fruit). On the other side of the Oolong spectrum is our Ruby Oolong. A highly oxidized tea from Thailand, the Ruby Oolong is oxidized over a long period of time, then slowly baked to draw out rich flavors of baked pear and earthy, woodsy notes of cedar. We use whole leaf Oolongs, rolled and dried in balls that pulse out flavor when they hit hot water. Using whole leaf tea lets us steep 2 and 3 times, getting nuanced, unique flavors in each cup.
So much of the tea process reminds us of our first love, coffee. Most of all, coffee and tea bring people together. They provide a pause in the day for reflection, enjoyment, and an opportunity to treat yourself to the smallest of indulgences. We live our lives by these liquids, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.