After I finished my post from yesterday on Bird Pick Tea in Pasadena, I just had to throw this simple recipe together. I typically pair lychees with green tea in the summertime, but mixing it with oolong during the colder months is a season-appropriate and welcome change.
Oolong is a semi-oxidized tea that comes from China and Taiwan. Since it’s darker than green tea and lighter than black, it’s sometimes called “blue tea.” After picking, tea leaves are left to oxidize anywhere from 25 -75%. The resulting leaves are then pan-fried to stop oxidation, then sometimes rolled or twisted, giving the tea its characteristic look and taste.
Darker varieties like the one I use in this recipe have at higher level of oxidation and look almost like black tea. Lighter, less oxidized oolong tea leaves are commonly rolled into little balls or pellets.
Oolong has a fruity, honey-like taste, making it perfect for pairing with lychee fruits. In this recipe, the tea is later diluted by lychee syrup, so it’s a good idea to steep the tea stronger. I use canned lychees all the time in light desserts but I think they are most useful in the winter when the fresh ones aren’t available. In this drink, they take the place of boba tapioca balls, and are lighter and easier to prepare. When mixed with oolong, the finished lychee-infused tea will give off a sunny, soft golden hue, just what you need to press through these dreary days of winter.
Lychee Oolong Tea
Makes 4 drinks.
1 can lychees in heavy syrup
6 cups water, boiled to 190 degrees F
2-3 rounded Tbsp oolong tea leaves
teapot with strainer
hot water kettle
large drinking glasses
“fat” drinking straws (the boba tea kind)
1.) Drain heavy syrup of lychees into a medium bowl. Cut lychees into a 1/4″ dice, then place them into the same medium bowl with the syrup. Place in fridge to chill.
2.) Brew oolong tea for 4 minutes and strain into a medium size pitcher. Set aside to cool to room temp, then place in fridge to chill.
3.) When time to serve, fill glasses with ice until half full, then pour tea until the glass is 3/4 full. Scoop out 2 rounded tablespoons of the diced lychees in each glass, then fill the lychee syrup into the glasses until full.