As autumn settles in and the air grows cooler, I have a tendency to prefer drinking aged, highly-roasted oolong over other types of tea. It’s warming and soothing (it is less cooling, to be precise, as all teas are cooling by nature).
Buying high-fired oolong, however, is an adventure in itself. The great ones often come with a [very] high price tag, while the affordable ones that flood the market often are younger teas that have been roasted to death and/or subpar. That’s not to say there aren’t any good, affordable, aged ones. Cheunghing’s Tie Luohan is one example that is good, aged and affordable – a triple threat.
The tea brews very dark, almost opaque. It’s malty, sweet with a hint of chocolate flavor, thick and silky smooth. Whatever strong roasty characteristics it had when it was young, it has now mellowed out with age. This tea can take a lot of abuse too: over brewing it does make the tea strong but it hardly gets bitter. The best part about it is, a session with a small packet of 7.5 grams in leaves costs only $1, more or less. Simply said, it’s an affordable luxury.
I store the paper packets in a medium-sized clay jar to let the tea evolve and (hopefully) get better with age. I have to admit, it’s rather hard to keep my hand out of the cookie jar, so to speak.