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There’s no denying that fall is now upon us–as we say goodbye to those hot summer days (or in our case here in Seattle, give up on this year’s summer ever actually happening), it’s natural for our tea tastes to shift a little bit. Those vegetal green teas and light, floral oolongs that were thirst-quenching during summer months may not seem quite as comforting when the weather starts cooling off and daylight hours wane. Wuyi oolongs to the rescue! These oolongs are traditionally higher-oxidized and much more roasted than your typical green Tieguanyin and High Mountain Taiwanese oolongs, which means their pure floral notes are rounded–a bit fruitier and accompanied by a robust roasted note, which makes them perfect for cold weather! Coincidentally, these teas are traditionally given a period of several months to rest after processing to allow the flavors to blend successfully, which means they’re drinkable right when fall comes around!

We’ve just received this year’s harvest of five different Wuyi rock oolongs–Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Rou Gui, Old Bush Shui Xian and Shui Jin Gui. Like last year, we sourced these teas with a whole lot of help and legwork from our good friends at Seven Cups tea. It’s exciting to get these teas because of the change in season, but also because it gives us a chance to compare a second season of tea with last year’s harvest. The above shot (photos by Jeannie) of our new Da Hong Pao’s luscious leaves tells the story pretty well–the leaves are dark brown with a few rusty edges, a sign of plenty of careful oxidation and roasting. In the cup it’s dark reddish amber, which is another great sign. Tasting these teas, I was really excited to notice plenty of fire taste–the roasting is still pretty apparent, and that’s the way I like my Wuyi rock oolongs. With a heavier roast, the tea’s quality is less susceptible to deterioration (if it’s well-stored, of course), and its characteristics will continue to develop as time passes.

Since we still have a small quantity of a few of last year’s Wuyi oolongs, we’ve also had an opportunity to compare what a year does to a similar tea. Tasting last year’s Old Bush Shui Xian, I was really surprised how much the roasting flavor has mellowed in a year’s time (considering we haven’t stored the tea specifically for aging). The gentle floral notes and mineral aftertaste are more prominent and the roast lingers in the background. The 2010 counterpart, on the other hand, is quite robust with up-front roasting and floral notes that are more apparent in the nose after swallowing. Most interesting, though, is that it’s possible (even easy) to draw a clear connection between this year’s tea and last year’s, despite the obvious differences. Likewise, the Da Hong Pao’s incomparable high acidic notes, Tie Luo Han’s rich broadness, and Rou Gui’s fruity/spiciness all are apparent, there’s just more of an element of fire in the mix.

Everyone has their own tastes for oolong. Right now, these teas taste perfect to me. They’ve been in my cup almost every day since they arrived (a very good sign!). As they mellow out in the next few months, though, I think they’ll become even more accessible and balanced, which is one of my favorite things about Wuyi oolongs–they’re always drinkable, but they’re also always changing.

Hmm . . . where to start?  It’s been almost a year since our last entry; the blog looks very different now, and I am not Elliot.  So I guess that means an introduction would be in order 🙂

Tea break at the Pearl River
Mart in NYC

My name is Jeannie and I’m the founder of Miro Tea.  I was awakened to “real” tea when I was in college in one of those ‘a-ha!’ moments when you discover something the way that it was truly meant to be. Before that, my knowledge was limited to strong, bitter cups of Chinese green tea, prepared by my parents who believed that the more bitter the tea, the better it was, and that drinking tea was done more for medicinal reasons than for pleasure.  However, when coffee failed to give me the steadiness and concentration I needed to finish my college papers at 3:00 am, I was re-introduced to tea by a good friend, who showed me that good tea, when prepared properly, enables you to discover and appreciate its full, beautiful and nuanced flavors.  Flavors that one did not even know existed in this world.  And so with that, my future changed.  I decided early in my life that I wanted to own my own business, and I also believed deeply in the Buddhist ethic of not profitting from another’s suffering or misfortune. I also felt that the American public–and specifically coffee-buzzed Seattlites–was ready to re-discover an alternative to their caffeine habit.  And so the idea of Miro Tea was born.

Our mission with Miro Tea is simple.  Encourage more people to drink and love tea.  There’s no snobbery or pretense at Miro Tea.  We just love talking about and drinking teas of all varieties, and we believe strongly that the best way to encourage people to explore and ultimately adopt a new product is by appealing to ALL of their senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and even sound) in an environment that is as warm and approachable as the people serving and educating you about the product.

Our blog re-launch parallels our increased efforts to source even better teas (and talk more about them), and to recount the day-to-day activities of our store (which includes our beloved customers and staff) that is ultimately the heart and soul of Miro Tea.  In the coming weeks and months, we will have a total of three different TEAm members who will be contributing regularly to this blog. Elliot (whom you have previously met via his eloquent tea tasting entries) will delve deeper into the details of specific teas than one would think is even possible.  Rachael, our arts and events coordinator, will be sharing more information about upcoming art and music events, as well as the tea workshops that we have been busy pulling together. And finally me, to talk about everything else that Rachael and Elliot don’t cover!

Since it’s been 20 years since my last diary entry (and this being my first blog entry), please bear with me as I spend the coming months getting accustomed to the notion of sharing my opinions, experiences and passion for tea with you through this online medium rather than doing it with you in person at our store.  Please feel free to comment or email us if you have any feedback or have any questions about tea, what you see on this site, or about Miro Tea in general.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Gan bei!