I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first decided to buy this tea.
Having grown up with popular Taiwanese culture and visited Taiwan twice (hubby and I always said we would move there if we could!), I have a soft spot for this island and its oolongs. Admittedly though, I haven’t had one for some time.
Every time I have Taiwanese oolongs, it always reminded me of a college mate I had from Taiwan, as he was the first person who introduced me to them. His first tea gift to me was almost two decades ago, a high mountain (“gao shan”) oolong tea from the Alishan region, and my recollection was that I really enjoyed it. So much, that visiting the Alishan region became a pilgrimage of sorts when I visited years later.
So my interest was piqued by this Jin Xuan oolong from Chiayi (northwestern area of the Alishan region), aged in a whisky barrel here in Melbourne – “whisky tea”. I don’t really drink whisky, but my hubby does (half-Scottish genes!). My logic? If I didn’t like it, at least he would!
Ingredients: Batch No. 001 Jin Xuan oolong, aged in Starward Whisky’s whisky barrel
Region: Alishan (Chiayi)
Suggested water temperature: 95 degrees Celcius
Suggested service size: 4g per 100ml (my teapot could fit 200ml)
Suggested steep time: 3 infusions – 1st at 45 seconds, 2nd at 30 seconds, 3rd at 60 seconds
Old Barrel Tea Co.’s Batch No. 001 Jin Xuan oolong built its base upon award-winning Jin Xuan oolong tea from a Mr. Wang of Chiayi, located in the northwestern area of the Alishan region of Taiwan, which is a famed tea-growing area.
This high mountain tea is harvested just before the tea bushes rest during the winter snow. During the winter time, the high mountain region is especially cold, so tea harvest yield is generally very low and therefore highly prized.
The twist to this specialty-tea is that Old Barrel Tea Co. decided to age the tea leaves in Starward Distillery’s whisky barrel for 67 days.
First impressions: pale yellow liquor, floral and boozy aroma.
I love the different taste dimensions of this tea. For me, everything about this tea is gentle and light, from the colour of the liquor to the body and taste.
The taste layers reveal themselves one-by-one. Upon initial sipping, I could taste the floral and fruity smoothness of the tea, though admittedly I did not find the creamy taste to be a dominant characteristic.
However, it is the lingering aftertaste which caught me off-guard (in a nice way) – notes of whisky reminiscent of oak. It is distinct, but not overpowering. Just the way I like it, and enough for me as a non-whisky drinker. The finish is long, as I could still taste it in my mouth even approximately 15-20 minutes from the last sip.
Although the tea merchant suggested 3 infusions, I found that the tea holds itself well. I could get up to 4-5 infusions and the tea still tasted great.
And the hubby’s comment? I LIKE IT!
(P.S. This tea has triggered my longing to visit Taiwan again – time to save up!)
Verdict – 5/5
Wishing you a great day,
Suk-yi is a caffeine lover, blogger, entrepreneur, air quality consultant, environmentalist, world citizen, wife and mother. She explores various topics related to coffee, tea, chocolate and everything in between on her blog. Make sure to follow her on her Facebook Page, Instagram Page and Pinterest Page.