It’s been oolong time since my last review *pause for applause/booing*, but I’m back, with a Taiwanese varietal to warm your heart steep after steep – Four Seasons Oolong from the Tea Makers of London. (Keep reading to find out how you can receive 15% off your first order from the Tea Makers ❤️)
A little bit about this UK based, family owned tea company… Having just celebrated their 12th birthday, The Tea Makers have gone from strength to strength, not only in terms of supplying high quality and ethically sourced tea from all over the world, but in terms of improving the sustainability of their packaging – which I can personally attest to, as the first canister of pu-erh I ever bought was in fact, from The Tea Makers, in 2017. The reusable and recyclable metal caddies have remained, but the internal packaging is now made from Natureflex, which is made from cellulose and is fully compostable. On top of this, The Tea Makers are a member of Carbon Neutral Britain, which uses carbon offsetting projects certified through the UK and EU Emissions Trading Standard (EU + UK ETS), Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions (VER) and the United Nations Certified Emission Reductions (CER) programmes – so it’s clear the The Tea Makers take their responsibility to reducing their impact very seriously.
Four Seasons, or Si Ji Chun, was discovered in the Muzha district of Taiwan in 1985. This semi-wild hybrid cultivar is naturally fast growing, and was found to produce a very consistent quality upon each seasonal harvest, leading to the name. This particular crop was grown in the second smallest township of Taiwan, Mingtan/Mingjian – which literally translated means “a very wet place”. As teas grown at cooler temperatures tend to produce a sweeter taste, these cloudy and rainy conditions work in favour of the tea.
As you can see, it is a lightly oxidised and tightly rolled oolong, producing gorgeous deep green and brown pearls, which after a few steeps, unfurl to beautiful whole leaves, retaining a floral but buttery scent throughout. The tea brews to a straw-gold colour (which looks particularly fetching in a glass mug) and there is no cloudiness and very little dust. It is deeper and nuttier in taste and I would say a tad more astringent than its parent cultivar Tie Guan Yin, but floral notes of orchid/daffodil are clearly present. Whether brewing Western or Gong-fu style, this tea has plenty of life even after 3-4 steeps – in my time making friends with this tea I have easily pushed through to 4 steeps in my French press and 7 in my gaiwan. In brewing it appears quite forgiving, having experimented with my usual oolong brewing temp of 85-90C to the 100C recommended on the tin – however due to the potential for astringency I wouldn’t want to push much further than 3 minutes brewing time (Western style).
Whether you are completely new to the world of oolongs, or a regular fan, I think this is a lovely example that shares a generous level of flavour through each steep, especially considering the price point (£5.95 per 50g vs a Tie Guan Yin at £9.50) making this a glorious oolong to spend a whole afternoon with – and you can browse the whole selection of oolongs here – https://www.theteamakers.co.uk/collections/oolong-tea.
If you’d like to enjoy 15% off your first purchase from The Tea Makers website, you can head to their website and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up for the newsletter (I will not receive any commission for you doing this, it’s simply a bargain!)