I have a secret love, and it might be shocking to some.
It's oolong tea.
I know, I know, all I talk about is green. But oolong, which is between a green and black tea in terms of processing (and caffeine content), can be as desirable as Zima to a freshman sorority sister at her first big frat party.
Oolongs are much more than an in-between taste, though. They have a distinct flavor profile that is refreshingly astringent, and the ones I most often reach for have a unique smoky element, a result of the charcoal-firing process that the higher-end ones undergo. This also means that they stand up well to sweet dishes, so I made an apple-rhubarb pie- just to refresh my memory- to taste alongside a new oolong for me, Water Sprite.
And so it was with a confident hand that I lifted the first cup to my lips; ashy, mineraly undertones, cutting through the layered sweetness of the apples and syrupy rhubarb, greeted my tongue. The tea's clean flavor even boosted the subtle saltiness of the pie crust, too, so I imagine pairing it with bolder, savory snacks would work just as well.
Water Sprite hails from Fujian Province, China, and as you can see, produces a gorgeous, amber brew which nicely echoed the first hint of summer sun that we had here in New York this morning. It's available (surprise surprise) at Ito En, so you can try it for yourself. Oolong lover or not, I can't imagine anyone would be disappointed.