When two competing companies make a similar blend, it is an invitation for them to be compared. We set out to compare the differences between two coconut pouchongs; one from Adagio Teas and one from Golden Moon Tea. The Golden Moon pouchong was awarded Best Tea at the 2007 World Tea Expo. We wanted to see if it lived up to hype.
Click any image to enlarge

What is pouchong:
A pouchong is a lightly oxidized tea somewhere between green tea and what is usually considered oolong tea. It produces a pale color with a mild taste. The best pouchongs have a floral taste to them. Due to its mildness it is a popular tea to use in aromatic teas.

The method:
Each tea was brewed in a teacup with 6-ounces of freshly boiled water. The infusers used were large and open to provide adequate space for the leaves. Steep time was 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

The teas (descriptions from the seller’s website)
Adagio Teas

Even as the temperature drops, you’ll have a tropical getaway with every cup of our exquisite Coconut Pouchong. This delicate and light oolong tea from Taiwan is combined with the flavor of fresh coconut to produce a very sweet flavor that’ll be sure to bring you back to the beach!
Golden Moon Tea

The flavors meld together ideally with the Pouchong base lending a smooth, complex and green flavor. Fresh is the key to the exquisite flavor offering of this Coconut Pouchong tea. One of the secrets to our Coconut Pouchong tea is the quality and structure of the leaf. The leaves of this Coconut Pouchong tea are a large, beautiful green, well crafted Pouchong base and are elegant yet firm.

What we saw – the dried leaves
The dried leaves are tightly wrapped and light in color due to the lower oxidation. They are generally darker than a typical green tea and lighter than an oolong or a black tea. As can be seen in the images above, Adagio’s version has some small flecks of dried coconut to provide the flavor. There is no strong smell of coconut from the dried leaves of Adagio’s tea.

Golden Moon’s tea is flavored in a different manner. The ingredients list on the packaging states: Grand Pouchong Tea Leaves, Essence of Coconut. This is coconut extract. The scent of coconut on the dry leaves is very strong. The strength of the scent made us wonder if imitation extract was used (this would indicate artificial flavoring…)

Otherwise, the quality of the dry leaves themselves appears quite similar between the two brands.


The wet leaves
The leaves unfurled nicely from both teas, we noted that the leaves from the Golden Moon version seemed more broken and torn than Adagio’s. Adagio’s tea had more full sized leaves in it. Whether the leaves are broken and torn, however, is not really an indicator of the quality of the tea, just the manner of handling during the processing. Generally, the leaves are full enough in each tea to provide a good steep with adequate flavor. Again, in the image above you can see some of the coconut pieces in the Adagio version.


The tea
Both of our testers came to the same conclusion in terms of aroma and flavor about these teas. Golden Moon’s tea is paler in color than Adagio’s. The flavor of both teas is mild, but rich – typical for a pouchong. However, the Adagio tea has a more pleasant aroma with soft floral notes (though totally lacking in coconut scent.) The Golden Moon tea has a somewhat “cabbage” smell to it, with no obvious coconut aroma. To describe it as simply vegetable-scented doesn’t capture it, it is more profound than that; the scent of the Golden Moon tea is slightly off-putting.

However, on the flavor side of things, Golden Moon tea wins – hands down. The pouchong flavor is light, complex and refreshing. The coconut aroma is present in traces on the back of the tongue, but not so much within the flavor of the liquid itself. Some reviewers have described it as sweet, we find that to be an over-generalization. It is, but the sweetness is hardly noticable.

The Adagio version, in direct comparison to the Golden Moon, while having a more pleasant aroma, is harsh with a vegetable and cabbage flavor. It lacks the subtlety and nuance of the Golden Moon tea. The coconut is also present on the back of the tongue to about the same degree of the Golden Moon version.

Overall, in our opinion, Golden Moon’s tea is the preferred coconut pouchong. Due to the aroma, however, it does not seem to be worthy of Best Tea of 2007. It is good, refreshing and drinkable but is not one of the best teas we ever had.