Since I don't get to Phoenicia Foods (the international food supermarket in Houston) very often, I texted a few friends to see if they needed anything while I was there. One of them (a friend from Iran whom I hadn't seen in months) called back right away and said, "You're not going to believe this. My mother is visiting me from Iran and we ran out of pita bread and French feta cheese. I told her I didn't want to drive all the way to Phoenicia to get more. And then I got your text message! Nobody has EVER texted me from Phoenicia to ask if I needed anything!"
Apart from learning that there is such a thing as French feta cheese (I'm French and I didn't know!), my good deed was rewarded when my friend came to my house that evening to pick up her bread and cheese. Not only was I reimbursed in cash, but she gave me a bag full of teas from Teavana that she no longer wanted!
The next day, I decided to try the Teavana Monkey-Picked Oolong. The image of monkeys picking leaves in tea fields and climbing ancient tea trees to reach the highest tender buds is highly amusing, although I know it's not accurate.
This tea is slightly past its prime, but nonetheless it's a welcome addition to my collection. My husband loves oolong tea, and not just because we read somewhere that it's good for hangovers! The other oolong teas in my cabinet are darker and more oxidized, whereas this one is a less oxidized tea that's closer to a green.
The dark green leaves are flecked with lighter specs of yellow-green and rolled into uneven, slightly misshapen balls. The dry leaves have a mild, pleasant vegetal aroma.
I used a heaping teaspoon of leaves per cup and steeped the tea for three minutes at 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
This yielded a yellow-gold cup of mild tea with that distinctive flavor that is present in Japanese teas such as sencha, and which always reminds me of eggs or broth. There were also notes of chrysanthemum and a delayed astringent mouthfeel.
I did a second steeping for five minutes at 190 degrees Fahrenheit and got an amber-hued liquor that was very mild (perhaps because the tea was older) with no bitterness or astringency. I tasted muted notes of egg, vegetable broth, seaweed, chrysanthemum and jasmine.
Conclusion: not a bad tea. Not as bold as some oolongs, but it'll do when the oolong craving hits. I'd be curious to taste this fresh.