Seeing them side by side, there is no doubt which is which.
I began with the unroasted oolong, the Jin Xuan Oolong from the Spring 2013 harvest.
Along with its buttery color, was a very light buttery texture and flavor. It looks and tastes like spring, with bright grassy notes evened out with a subtle nuttiness.
Next was Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong from the Winter Harvest. This fell in the mid-range of roasting.
The flavors are as complex as the name. This is not a subtle tea, it certainly packs a punch, but there is an element of honey that softens the blow. I enjoyed the strength of this tea.
And finally, the Dong Ding Oolong, which is heavily roasted.
One taste, and there's no doubt it is roasted. The flavor is deep and very bold. It might even be a contender for my morning cup of tea! It's interesting, I sometimes read about notes of fruit flavors in single origin teas and I have rarely detected any, but in this case, I experienced a nutty - cherry flavor. It was hidden in the depths of the finish, but it was there.
My appreciation for Oolongs has grown exponentially over the past few years, and these examples only reinforced that appreciation. There's an oolong for every mood. The heavily roasted Dong Ding for the morning, the Shan Li Xi for a mid afternoon pick-me-up, and the light, sunny Jin Xuan to end your day with a smile.
Who wants to bet what will be in my cup tomorrow morning?