I have purchased Floating Leaves Tea’s Buddha Hand Oolong a couple times. It is a tea that I find challenging to brew, as well as one that needs a good amount of rest. What frustrated me was I’ve had Buddha Hand multiple times at Floating Leaves Tea on sample, but they always steep it better than me. So I kept buying this tea and playing with parameters on days I was craving ultra roast tea, finally reviewing it today when I think I got the tea figured out.
Buddha Hand oolong is a traditional cultivar, roasted strongly. It is a fairly uncommon tea and you don’t find them sold too often. This tea is from Pinglin, Taiwan.
Note that I am drinking the 2015 Buddha Hand. Floating leaves Tea does sell a younger one in shop, but with this tea the older the better otherwise the roast is harsh. Or younger the better if you love a roast with your tea.
Dry Leaf and Steeping Method
Buddha Hang oolong has big dark rolled leaf. The leaves smell dark, close to burnt roast, and bittersweet.
Buddha Hand Oolong has monster sized leaves, just like its namesake of the fruit and being the size of a hand. Here are a few big oolong rolls from this session. I’ve actually seen bigger ones from previous sessions I’ve had out of this ounce of tea.
I steeped Buddha hand with 1 gram of leaf to 18ml vessel size, gongfu style steeped in boiling water.
- I found backing off the leaf is best with Buddha Hand. Around 1 gram to 18 to 20ml is best. If you go total ham it is incredibly strong and harsh.
- Be sure to preheat your teapot or gaiwan.
- Buddha Hand responds very well steeped in clay. Good heat retention pots do well too! It also does very well with silver teapots or silver cups.
Tasting of Floating Leaves Tea’s 2015 Buddha Hand Oolong
First, Second, and Third Infusion: Buddha Hand Oolong starts off on the lighter side. The flavour notes are bright, sweet mineral, roasted nut shells, with some chocolate raspberry notes. It is smooth and has a thick body.
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Infusion: Buddha Hand has gotten strong. The heavy roast is shining through and dominating the flavour. It is strong, bright, savoury, and sharp roasted bitter nut shells. The body is incredibly smooth and the tea has a thick and heavy feel to it, like drinking cement pudding. Each steeping gets harsher in the roasted flavour with some astringency to dry out the back of my front top teeth.
Side by side in silver, Buddha Hand oolong is sweeter. The roast is tamed down to be less sharp and dark chocolate notes poke out more.
Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: The roast is chilling out and I’ve gone to brewing a touch faster. It is still bright roasted flavour with a thick body. Each steeping gets a touch sweeter. It is gaining on astringency, spreading more toothy dryness. Each steeping slips a bit more and needing longer infusions.
In silver, Buddha Hand Oolong in later infusions is quite sweet, like caramel and roasted nuts.
Likely I could get more infusions, as I can still smell the roasted scent in the leaves. This is where good heat retention and using a teapot comes in for Buddha Hand Oolong so you can milk all the tea out. I didn’t get full leaf expansion but I got as much flavour as I could unless I resorted to heating the pot or boil on the stove.
If you love roasted teas you need to try 2015 Buddha Hand Oolong from Floating Leaves Tea. Hojicha and roasted barely teas aren’t as roasty as this tea. Buddha Hand Oolong may be too roasty for some people too. Floating Leaves Tea certainly prefer a heavy thick body on all their teas, and this one follows suit for being able to feel this tea sink into your guts. I do think it is a slight fussy brewer, but likely I say that as I’ve had it steeped to perfection by Floating Leaves Tea.
Buddha Hand Oolong pairs amazingly with sweets, especially with chocolate. It is a great evening tea or cold weather tea to relax with. I’ve had the younger Buddha Hand and it is furiously harsh roasted in flavour. This would be a great oolong to age, or simply buy 4oz and slowly chip away at it in the winter months.