The last time I wrote about the silk oolong formosa I picked up at Red Blossom, I marveled at its milky quality despite the absence of actual milk. I was wrong. Vegans beware, this tea is not for you.
Some s.o.f. actually does contain dairy. Apparently a "milk oolong" can fall into one of two camps. The milk flavor can occur naturally, from a combination of the variety of tea, climate and conditions, or it can be literally infused with milk. Like from a cow, which is what gives Red Blossom's version its warm, caramel aroma and flavor.
I can't tell if that makes me like this tea more or less. It reminds me of my dad's search for the perfect stereo equipment. When surround sound debuted, he saw it as cheating, and wanted a pair of traditional speakers made so well that they could achieve a similar effect. He wanted naturally milk scented sound.
My hunch is that the milk-infused variety has taken the place of the more rare (and expensive) original, in much the same way that "liquid smoke"-infused lapsang souchong has largely replaced tea that has actually been cured over a fire.
Using milk instead of a balletic synthesis of natural elements does seem like cheating, and it is, but if it produces a better result that more people can enjoy, then why not? Because it also threatens a time honored tradition and the livelihood of those who practice it.
But do I enjoy my silky, milky tea? God, yes.