I have a crush on this tea box design. My @rosalitea arrived yesterday. I haven't steeped any of the teas because I wanted to show you the package in its entirety. I'll post photos of the dry leaves and steep liquor here, and check the blog for extended tasting notes. The teas are single-origin milk oolong and Assam, and a blended jasmine pearls green.
Rosali Tea is a young subscription tea company founded by Rosa Li. The company successfully raised $22,977 in October 2015 using Kickstarter. Teas were first shipped in December 2015. I was lucky enough to receive one of the company's early shipments of tea. In my box were milk oolong, Assam, and jasmine pearls. I will review the first two here.
I'll start with the milk oolong. I really enjoyed drinking this tea. I recorded two of my three sessions. During the second session, I infused a serving of the leaves six times. The first three infusions were 2 minutes long in 185F water. The liquor was sweet -- honey, almost butterscotch -- and buttery like good popcorn. Also, the liquid was creamy. For the fourth infusion, I bumped up the temperature to 195F and only steeped the leaves for 1 minute. The popcorn flavor was front and center on this infusion but I liked the complexity of the tea at 185F. The next infusion was made at 185F for 2 minutes. The liquor was dry with a lingering (not water) melon flavor. I infused the leaves one more time. The flavors had largely dissipated.
The notes for the first infusion of the second session are: "It's so good! Cream, floral, popcorn butter." I can't say what the flower note was but it wasn't overwhelming. I used the last of the leaves in the pouch, almost 3 grams, in 195F water for 2 minutes. Although I liked the diversity of notes that came out using 185F water in the second session, because I had less leaves for this session, I thought I should use a higher water temperature. The second and third infusions had less wow than the first but the creamy mouthfeel was there. On the fourth infusion I detected steamed spinach. It was a pleasant discovery. The leaves began to mellow out by the fifth infusion. The liquor was still smooth and there were subtle vegetable and butter notes. I made a sixth infusion but this was largely flavorless.
I also had three sessions from the Assam. In retrospect, I should have used a gram measurement to prepare the sessions for all the teas. It's useful to have a measure (pun intended) of consistency between sessions and across tea types. I received my scale after I began preparing these teas and so I wasn't in the habit of weighing my leaves. Also, I need to find a reliable guide for gram measurements for different tea types.
Like the milk oolong, I only have notes for two of the three sessions. I'm going to share a direct quote from my tasting notes, again. After I rinsed the leaves, I wrote: "What a great smell -- malty, semi-sweet chocolate." I prepared three infusions with 195F water. The first two were 2 minutes long and the third was 3 minutes long. I tasted honeycomb candy during the second infusion! The leaves were exhausted by the third infusion (I should have used more leaves).
Given my experience during the second session, I used a lot more leaves for the third session. I used the remainder of the leaves which amounted to almost 4 grams. (I should note here that the serving size recommended by the company for the oolong, black, and green teas is 1 teaspoon.) For this session I used 195F water. The first, second, and third infusions were 2 minutes; the fourth was three minutes; and the fifth steep was 10 minutes long. The rinse smelled like milk stout beer! The first infusion tasted of bread dough. It was dry. The honeycomb candy flavor was present too. The second infusion was similar but I tasted banana bread. The leaves had expanded and filled up the gaiwan. In the third and fourth infusion there was a peek-a-boo dried fruit flavor which I couldn't name (and still can't). The Assam is a heady tea; I felt tea drunk by the end of the third infusion. The flavors were starting to peter out so I thought I long infusion was extract more flavor. It did and color too. The fifth infusion was similar to an Irish Breakfast Blend. The liquor was dry and brisk and tasted of dried cherry. The bread dough note reemerged.
Based on my sessions of milk oolong and Assam, I would recommend Rosali Tea. You can subscribe to Rosali Tea here. I look forward to seeing what other teas the company will offer.
Tea box of three teas courtesy of Rosali Tea.