After all of the time I've spent traveling from place to place the past few weeks I'm glad I'm finally home where I can sleep in my own bed and raid my stash of good tea, rather than rely on whatever bagged tea the hotel (or my family) happens to keep on hand for guests. As soon as I walked in the door I made a beeline for my tea stash and pulled out one of my new summer teas: Watermelon Baozhong from Liquid Proust Teas.
Like all of the teas I've tried from Liquid Proust this one doesn't include any steeping instructions on the package, so I decided to consult the oracle known as google and see what other companies recommend when steeping the base tea, in this case a Baozhong Oolong. Sadly I found that I didn't have much luck when steeping this tea at 195˚F, which is what was recommended by several sources. Even after icing the tea down it ended up tasting like a watermelon jolly rancher. That really isn't my thing, so I starting playing around with different water temperatures and steeping times. It turns out this is one stubborn tea and my normal methods don't work as well. I finally gave up and tossed everything into my cold steeping pitcher.
In hindsight I probably should have saved this tea until after I'd had a cup of something a little less finicky, perhaps my favorite earl grey, but once I get an idea in my head there is no letting go. Fortunately I had excellent results cold steeping this overnight. The long cold steeping time left me with a pitcher of tea that had a mild, but pleasant grassy flavor and only the faintest hint of tart watermelon. A little added sugar smoothed out the tartness, leaving me with a nicely flavored oolong that's perfect for the hot days of summer.
UPDATE: Liquid Proust himself let me know that I somehow managed to miss his steeping advice posted in his etsy listing which recommends cold steeping this tea. If you want to brew this tea hot he suggests treating this more like a green tea, using a lower temperature during brewing. His advice: start at 180˚F for 160 seconds and adjust the time slightly depending on the leaf to water ratio.
Would I order this again? Yes. Initially I was frustrated with this tea, my normal methods of making iced tea don't seem to work as well with the more delicate base. Once I figured things out I really enjoyed it, it's an excellent choice for a refreshing iced tea.