December 2, 2010

That Red Tin Ti Kuan Yin Oolong

This tea was given to me by a well meaning person a long, long time ago. We have all seen these tins on the shelves of just about every Chinese market. I always appreciate the gift of tea, no matter how humble it may be. I had actually forgotten about this tin of oolong, it's been in the cabinet for a year or more. Today while digging through all the bags, tins, boxes of teas I found this and thought I,d give it a go. I,m probably not any different than most people reading this in that Ive got more tea samples and bits of this and that laying around than I,ll ever get around to trying. I,m making a concerted effort to try to whittle these teas down a bit before buying anything else.

I had to run some errands today and stopped by the Asian market and sure enough, there it was on the shelf. At $5.99 a tin I shouldn't expect much. I see that "Puerh Shop" has this same exact tea on sale for $13.77 Just go's to show that you should be very careful where you spend your money. Not all of Puerh Shop's teas are this over priced, some of his teas are very good and sold at a fair price.

Opening the tins outer and inner lids unleashes a very strong roasted aroma with some very pungent citrus aspects wafting into the room. The teas dry leaf is pretty darned strong smelling. Could be a good sign, could be a sign of overly roasted bland and lifeless tea. So......lets get some leaf into the pot, give it a good rinse and see what we have here.

First things first, the first infusion smells very strongly of the roast and a floral smell that Ive always thought of as "grapefruit flower" a very clean and tart citrus with just a touch of spice is in the mix as well. The aroma is impressive, it smells good. The tea brews up fairly clear with a deep amber color. The flavor isn't bad, actually, it's a lot better than I thought it would be considering it's price. It's body is a little thin and not much in the way of sweetness, but all in all, it's really not a bad tea. Perfectly acceptable as a matter of fact. Of course you can't compare this tea to others selling for a lot more money but it has some of the same flavors and aromas as those higher priced oolongs.

It was a nice gift after all. Now I,m not saying I'd run out and buy a few tins of this stuff but what I have I,ll drink and enjoy it. We all know that you get what you pay for but every once in a while I,m surprised at some of these mass produced teas. Most of them are not very good, or even drinkable for that matter. I don't always have to have some really expensive tea in my cup to be happy, and most days I,m too busy and don't have enough time to really appreciate my tea. So, I save my "good" teas for a time when I can give them the attention they deserve.  But having said that, sooner or latter after drinking these kinds of teas for a while I will get to the point where I,m wanting something sublime. And no matter how hard you look you are never going to find sublime for $5.99 or $13.77 depending on where you shop. Nope, your going to have to fork out the dough.


  1. I didn't pay much attention of the supermarket oolong until once I bought a box of Sea Dyke (the same brand as your tea here) Da Hong Pao for about $6. Very well packed and not bad at all. It's not excellent, but not less tasty than some products more expensive than it.

    I think it's fun to occasionally try supermarket tea. That's how you know whether or not some more expensive teas are really worth it :D

  2. Howdy Ginko,

    Exactly! Ive had teas that sold for much more money than this and fell into the same quality category as this oolong. In addition, one of my "everyday" green teas is a Mao Feng that I buy from my neighborhood Chinese grocer's, very rich and slightly sweet and vegetal. It's price? $5.99 for a 150 gm. tin.

    I love those high priced teas as much as anybody but I also hate the idea of being a pretentious "Tea Snob" where nothing but the most expensive teas will do.

    Thanks for reading Ginko.

  3. What both of you say really fits with my own experience. These tins purchased in Asian stores in Chinatowns and elsewhere can be hit-or-miss, and I've probably had more "misses" than "hits", I've found quite a few that I thought offered very good value.

    My most recent discovery in this arena was an Alishan oolong from Tradition brand.

    I'd like to start listing more of these brands on; it's hard though, without actually going into stores and recording the names, because many of the brands and companies don't have websites or any web-presence in English.