November is an odd choice for a garden party, but the weather has just been so mild this year that sipping Whittard Garden Party Oolong tea isn’t out of the question. Dotted with marigold petals and fruit pieces, this blend uses a darkly oxidised oolong tea as a base.
With green tea and black tea typically dominating the afternoon tea crowd, it’s unusual to see an oolong hit the mainstream! But I can definitely see it working well in this blend. I’m hoping to find rich, nutty notes…
Let’s review it to find out if this tea can deliver.
Garden Party Oolong Loose Leaf at a Glance
- Blend: Dark oxidised oolong with fruit pieces, marigold petals and flavouring
- Flavour: Nutty and mineral rich oolong with a silky nectar-like texture
Although the aroma is bursting with delicious sweet fruits, hazelnuts and honey, the flavour of this oolong is fairly simple with a nutty and mineral-like taste. It’s pleasant, nonetheless.
Full Review – Whittard Garden Party Oolong
- Type: Loose leaf sampler
- Tea: Oolong
- Additives: Pineapple pieces, papaya pieces, strawberry pieces, marigold petals, flavouring, sugar
- Flavour Notes: Nuts, minerals, rocks, earth
- Aroma: Passionfruit, strawberry, tannins, Roses sweets, hazelnuts, honey
- Milk or Lemon: Neither
- Where to Buy: Whittard of Chelsea or Amazon
I’m reviewing a sampler of this tea that I received when I last shopped in-store at Whittard. At the time of writing this, Whittard are giving samplers out to people who give their email address to the cashier to join their tasters club.
The loose leaf tea has a very juicy aroma. Notes of passionfruit and strawberry dominate the scent with a hint of rich tannins peeking through. The sweetness of the fruits reminds me of Roses sweets – the orange and pink ones in particular, with their sticky fillings.
Make sure you stick around to watch this tea brew, as the leaves unfurl in spectacular fashion when you add water! The aroma also develops with the addition of water, losing those exotic fruit notes and developing rich hazelnut and honey scents instead. It’s very enticing.
As for the flavour, it’s a little bit of a let-down. It’s certainly nutty and rich, but it also has distinct mineral rock notes and hints of earth. I cannot detect any fruity or floral hints that Whittard say should be present. What a shame!
On a more positive note, the texture of this tea is divine. It’s silky and moderately thick, like nectar (but not so thick it becomes syrupy). Overall, it’s quite tasty and refreshing so I can definitely see it being consumed at a garden party with plenty of sweet treats.
How to Brew Oolong Tea
For oolong tea, the temperature you use and the length of brew depend on how oxidised the tea is. A lightly oxidised tea (green and fresh) will need a lighter brew, while a heavily oxidised tea (dark and rich) needs a heavier brew.
I always recommend following the instructions from the tea seller for oolong. In this case, Whittard suggest 1 teaspoon of loose leaf in 200ml of water between 80°C and 90°C. Let it steep for 1 to 4 minutes.
For my review, I steeped at 85°C for 2 minutes as I like my tea to be quite gentle in flavour. Brewing for longer may draw out the fruit flavours, but keep in mind that the mineral and nut flavours will also intensify.
As for what to serve with this tea, I’ve actually created an article What to Serve with Afternoon Tea to give you some snack ideas (sweet and savoury) plus some other tea recommendations that would be ideal for a garden party.
Why Whittard of Chelsea?
Whittard are a fantastic British tea brand if you want flavoured loose leaf tea. They don’t have an amazing range of single origin high quality teas, nor do they produce the most amazing bagged teas. But for flavoured loose leaf teas, like Whittard Garden Party Oolong, you just can’t beat them.
This blend relies on real fruit pieces (albeit coated in sugar) and whole leaf oolong tea, so the quality is pretty great. However, this tea does use some flavouring and it is notably not marked as ‘natural’ flavouring… so who knows what exactly is being used to create it.
Although the fruit pieces and flavouring clearly aren’t strong enough, the oolong produces a good flavour and the leaf quality is pretty good. With the addition of marigold petals for a visual element, it is definitely the right tea to brew in a glass teapot. You can really enjoy the beauty of this tea as it unfurls at your garden party.
Use one of my tealight ceramic teapot warmers to keep it hot!
This is a nice tea with a good oolong flavour. The quality is great and the aroma is divine. You could, hypothetically, add some fruit slices to this tea as it brews to give it a fruity note. It’s a shame that the fruit pieces in the tea blend don’t pull through… but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me.
Consumed alongside fruity or sweet foods, it’s a lovely oolong for an afternoon tea session or garden party.
I’ve only briefly explained light and dark oxidation in this tea review, but if you want to learn more about oolong and find out why oxidation matters so much, I recommend reading this Art of Tea article.
I promise I will write an oolong explainer article soon! Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list if you want monthly emails about our new published articles and more.