By Katherine Burnett
Lady Baker’s Oolong children are three very distinct personaliteas! Each is special in their own right! As loving parents of such amazing offspring, we gave them each unique nicknames which have endeared them to us even more!
When we say oolong (translated dark dragon) we’re referring to a tea type originating in China. The leaf is plucked in units of a bud and three leaves. Oolongs are semi-oxidized with degrees of oxidation from 7% to 70% so this makes them fall between a green tea and a black tea. As a result, we have light oolongs and dark oolongs. Stopping the oxidation process takes precision and knowledge passed down through many generations of tea masters.
Our first oolong to take residence with Lady Baker’s Tea is Organic Ti Kuan Yin, loosely translated as Iron Goddess of Mercy. Because of its light and dreamy floral notes, it became 'Oo-la-long' on our menu. This light oolong is considered one of the top ten teas of China. As one legend goes, Guanyin, the Goddess appeared in a dream to thank a tea grower for tending the ground in front of her statue. She told him about a cave where he would find a very special tea plant no one had ever seen before. He cultivated the bush and produced a crop of tea that he named after the goddess. Thanks to her, the tea maker sold more tea than ever before and went on to live a healthy and prosperous life.
Drinking Oo-la-long with the meal is so satisfying that it keeps one from overeating and in Eastern culture, it can be considered the ‘slimming tea’ for that reason. Because of the many diet-based trends, Lady Baker’s does not market it as the ‘slimming tea’ but if you should ever see that as a sub name, you know it is an accepted description!
When pairing with a meal, plan this Oo-la-long with a spicy dish. You'll be pleasantly surprised how it settles the taste buds!
Entering the world of Lady Baker’s teas alongside Ti Kuan Yin, is the classic dark oolong named Formosa Oolong. Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful shape’ was the name given the island of Taiwan before Chinese takeover. Because most oolongs during the indoor withering process, are rolled in long, bamboo cylinder baskets to break the tea leaf cells, thus triggering oxidation, we thought it would be fun to rename it Bamboolong, adding it to Lady Baker's collection of teas.
Different from light oolongs, Bamboolong is oxidized for a longer time. It is a darker brew and nutty to the palate. If you want to pair it to a cheese for an afternoon snack, try brie or camembert. As for dessert, serve up tantalizing baklava or pecan pie!
A milk oolong has no dairy product added in its production.
It is considered a bit rare as its milky smooth flavour is the result of a sudden shift in temperature during harvest - a rare occurrence to say the least. One of the many legends explains that the first time this shift occurred was centuries ago when the moon fell in love with a comet passing through the night sky. The comet, as all comets are wont to do, passed by, burned out and vanished. The moon, in her sorrow caused a great wind to blow through the hills and valleys bringing about a quick drop in temperature.
Normally, this would ruin the harvest, but like with so many mishaps, a miracle occurred and the leaf, through processing, transformed, giving a most incredible flavour as if velvet took liquid form and was blended with a sweet light cream. Being a chocolate lover, I’d sip on Moonlong with cream-filled milk chocolate.
The tea is produced in relatively small quantities from March to December; in fact, only 80,000 kg are produced with about 60,000 kg headed for the export market.
Needless to say, Moonlong makes Lady Baker’s TEAm very proud!
Some easy Oolong rules to follow
1. The water is best heated to 80-85C. Pouring boiling water on the leaves will bruise them and cause bitterness.
2. It is traditionally drunk after rinsing the leaves (a brief first infusion). Then add the water the second time, brewing for 1-2 minutes. The curled whole leaves slowly unfold and settle on the bottom of your pot or cup. This dramatic opening is called the ‘agony of the leaf’ and beautiful to watch.
3. You can infuse again and again, whether the same day or the next. I have infused day old open leaf Oo-la-long which still gives off a floral sweet scent. It’s remarkable how durable it is!
4. One should drink oolongs clear. However, I must confess we have made lattes with them at the Farmers' Market and much to the pleasure of all who indulged, they were delicious!
Each of our oolong siblings is kosher, vegan and vegetarian approved. Each is high in antioxidants and low in caffeine.
The camellia sinensis is a family of incredible personaliteas. I hope that showcasing our Oolong siblings will entice you to further your adventure into the realm of tea!
Oo-la-long, Bamboolong and Moonlong, you’re the best!
“One sip of [you] will bathe the drooping spirits in delight, beyond the bliss of dreams.” Milton