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Rishi's Bai Hao Oolong

Rishi Bai Hao Oolong Tea

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Oolong is a difficult tea to categorize. On one hand, it's simple to say, "It's the stuff on your table at a Chinese restaurant," but the amount of nuance in different varieties really makes that description obsolete.

Organic Bai Hao from Rishi, for example, tastes much less sweet than a table tea. Its dark leaves are evident in its flavor, moreso than in many other oolongs.

Also known as Amber Dragon, Bai Hao falls on the Great Tea Spectrum closer to the black teas (more oxidized) than green (less oxidized). Your Examiner brewed it for just about three minutes the first time, not knowing what to expect from it, but it could have used the longer steep time (up to five minutes) of a black tea to bring out a fuller flavor. It's not unpleasant, though, if you're a fan of lighter teas and want to brew it light -- and that's one of the reasons Oolong is such a versatile style of tea.

The color is amber, living up to its name. (No word on the amount of energy inside, because we don't have the proper tools on hand.) Its character is suitable to drink on its own or with food, though if you brew it longer, it starts to take on a sort-of woody taste, like a Pu-erh, but presumably without the extra concentrated caffeine that a Pu-erh's aging process imparts.

Overall, Rishi's Bai Hao isn't without its charm, but the various elements of it are all done to fuller effect in other styles of tea. It wears many hats, though, and a versatile beverage is handy for the pantry.