Every day (or week) you walk through the aisles of your local grocery store, and if you’re like me, you are a creature of habit, and tend to look for the brands of things that you are fond of and regularly buy. Once in a while something new catches your eye (that’s why the store creates displays). And once in a while, you have a little extra time to kill, and spend a little more energy checking things out. So it was one day that I discovered that tea is sold in more than one aisle of my local store.
One day while lazing around the tea aisle, I was craving an oolong tea. Now, I knew there was no loose leaf tea here; but how difficult could it be to find just a plain oolong in bags? Apparently, very. There was Oolong Peach. There was Oolong Herbal. There were all kinds of other teas available, but no plain oolong tea. Off I drifted down the aisle, turning the corner into another in that way of grocery store grazing.
About halfway down the next aisle in the Asian Foods section, lo and behold! Down on the bottom shelf: More tea. And there in the center, between a green tea and a jasmine green tea was oolong tea! Not only that, the box, containing 16 bags, was a mere $2.29—a deal compared to it’s cousins in the tea aisle. I popped that baby into my basket and took it home. Not expecting much; after all, you get what you pay for, right? And the brand, Dynasty, is a large corporate producer of everything from stir-fry sauces to noodles to canned chow mein—not promising for a special cup of tea.
Full disclosure—I am far from a tea expert. I don’t even know what one should be looking for in an oolong tea. But I will tell you anyway, despite your skepticism, that I enjoy this oolong bag tea. And for an everyday morning cuppa, it’ll do more than fine.
I followed the advice of other tea drinkers and heated my water to just before boiling (my kettle makes a distinctive sound when the water is best—sort of a low-pitched grumble). I steeped the bag for maybe two minutes. The fragrance was mild but distinctly floral, which was a big surprise to me. And oaty, like a green tea, at the same time.
The first sip felt a bit effervescent on the tongue (tannic?)—slightly spicy, and fruity at the same time; this reminded me of green tea. But then, a clean, strong acidic backbone developed as I drank. Earthy flavors rolled off to the sides of my mouth. It felt like the aroma and sides of my mouth were doing one thing, and the center and back of my mouth another, pleasantly in concert. All from this humble little tea bag.
I know many of you will be thinking that a mass-produced bag tea is not even in the same ballpark as a quality loose leaf tea, and I would not refute you. It’s just that in my small town, this is what’s available—if you know where to find it.