Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan
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Today’s tea: “jian xuan” milk oolong

May 08, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

Milk oolong was the first tea I drink regularly that I noticed is best when it is a little cooler. Some teas I like to sip when they can practically scald my tongue, but the sweet creaminess of milk oolong comes out when it has cooled in the cup just a little. Upon discovering this fact, I started trying to taste all my “grassy” oolongs that way, and have gained a whole new sense of enjoyment of them.

Today’s tea is a “jian xuan” milk oolong from Holy Mountain Trading Company. It is fragrant in the cup and sweet on the tongue, but this particular batch of it is not as good as the previous year’s. The milk scent/flavor does not survive to the second steeping very well. But milk oolong is as variable as fine wine, and just like wine is dependent on the weather. Although there are some “milk” oolongs that are actually infused with milk or milk flavor, the classic milk oolong is achieved only through a trick of the weather, with a sudden drop in temperature just before the leaves are picked.

The best milk oolong I ever had was the first one I tasted, at a tea tasting parlor in Seattle near the Pike Street Market called Vital T Leaf. corwin and I were walking along from our hotel after a convention one day, to check out the market, and some very cute Chinese women in chongsams beckoned us into the shop. (“Helloooo! Tea time!” This has become a catch-phrase forever after in my house…) They prepared and we tasted about seven different teas, and we bought four or five, one of which was milk oolong.

I see on some of the tea web sites that the Spring 2009 milk oolongs are appearing for sale, though. So it’s time to buy and try this year’s “vintage” from Taiwan and Fujian.

2 Comments to “Today’s tea: “jian xuan” milk oolong”


  1. I love a good milk oolong: I also like letting others sniff it and seeing the look of surprise on their faces!

    Glad to see you tea-blogging!

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  2. I know! When I first tried it I couldn’t believe I’d never had it before. Now I probably have it at least once a week. I forgot to mention the one from Stash “kinsen” milk oolong is okay, too. It’s not great, the second steeping tastes like nothing, but the first cup is all right. Not as good as milk oolong can get, though.

    And yes! You inspired me to get off my duff and start a blog! Thanks Lainie!

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