Written by Eric Rasmussen on December 20, 2009.
There have been several defining moments in my evolution as a tea drinker. They always follow the same script: I visit a tea shop or tea room for the first time, try a new tea based on a recommendation, and the experience is so singular that I have to bend and stretch my narrow definition of tea to include its previously unimagined depth. One such moment was my first visit to the Numi Tea Garden in Oakland, CA, which was also the first time I ever tried pouchong.
It is a very light green tea that is partially oxidized, so you will see it referred to as a green tea or an oolong tea depending on where you go. The tea (when brewed properly) has none of the bitterness or astringency of some green teas. The second and third steepings reveal complexities that further support the oolong tea classification, yet it has a lightness and overall balance that brings you back into the realm of green teas. I suppose we could make a list and weigh the advantages of calling it a green tea or an oolong tea, but let’s leave all that tiresome business of classification to the experts.
For your part, you should definitely make an effort to obtain this fine tea. Numi doesn’t currently have it available, but the best pouchong I’ve ever had was from the Mountain View Tea Village. Pouchong isn’t listed on their website, but their website is new, so it’s definitely worth contacting them to see if you can place a special order or if it will be made available again soon.