Just back from a few days down in the County where we went on a picnic down at the old Lakeshore Lodge part of the Sandbanks park.

We had some wonderful Taiwan High Mountain Oolong from Bei Shan with us.

Tightly wound balls of the dry Taiwan oolong tea

Tightly wound balls of the dry leaves of this Taiwan oolong tea

Traditionally oolong is prepared in a small, clay teapot with just under boiling hot water.  It is usual to give a quick rinse to oolong leaves, especially those which are tightly rolled, which moistens and loosens them and starts their unfurling.  Oolong tea leaves come in many different styles and if the leaves are tightly wound or balled, the first steep is a long one or two minutes which allows the leaves to fully unfurl, the subsequent steeps range from 30 to 45 seconds, getting longer as the number of steeps increases.   Eight or nine steeps can be coaxed from a very good oolong, and three or four from a decent one.

First steep of about 1 1/2 minutes

First steep of about 1 1/2 minutes

We were travelling picnic-light the other day, which meant no teapots nor cups.  What we had was a small sieve and a lovely vintage Thermos which had two plastic lid-cups.

It worked like a charm.  Tea drinkers are nothing if not inventive.

Et voila, two beautiful cups of oolong tea and a pile of beautifully fragrant leaves ready for the next steep.

Two cups of oolong tea and a pile of beautifully fragrant leaves ready for the second steep.

The tea is medium bodied, fragrant with a smooth mouth-feel and a typical lovely sweet apricot (stone fruit) note at its finish.