Sunday, September 14, 2014

What-Cha, Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Oolong Tea

Resealable Sample!
What-Cha Description:
We are proud to source all our Nepal teas direct from Greenland Organic Farm, who are very much at the forefront of a burgeoning Nepali tea industry dedicated to producing high quality artisanal teas. Greenland Organic Farm are completely pesticide and chemical free farm dedicated to producing tea in an ethical and fair manner. Greenland Organic Farm is located in East Nepal in the shadows of Mt. Kancghenjunga at an altitude of 3,000m.

Sample provided by What-Cha.

My Review:
I haven't had much opportunity to sit and quietly sip tea of late. Today I am doing my best to stay out of the way of the construction crew building my porch. The pounding on the roof is only a little distracting - in a good way. We have waited 24 years for this porch addition.

So, back to focusing on tea. I know oolong is a generic term meaning the leaf is oxidized more than green tea and less than black tea. That is a wide spread from about 8% oxidation to 85%. There is even debate on these numbers. Doesn't matter, I know oolong when I see it - unless it is from Kenya, or in this case, Nepal.

The Dry Leaf
Oolong isn't always rolled into little balls. This one is interesting to look at fresh out of the bag. If you told me it was a white tea or even a green, I would believe you. There are ample amounts of silvery buds and olive green leaves. There are also light brown and dark brown leaves. They are large pieces, and lightly twisted. The aroma is somewhere between dried fall leaves and fresh dried tobacco leaf.

I used 1/3 of the sample or approximately 3 g in my press with water heated to 196 F. The steep time was supposed to be 3 minutes but, well you know, squirrel! So it was more like 4 minutes. The brew turned out a shiny caramel color.

A Caramel Brew
How to describe this tea? This is light tea. By that I mean the flavor isn't big and bold like a morning blend. This has more of a lazy afternoon taste. My brain thinks it is similar to a Formosa oolong that I remember from years past but memories are often wrong.

As prepared here, there is has no bitterness or astringency. It is smooth and without bite. As with the dry leaf aroma, the taste reminds me of fall leaves. It simply has a woodsy taste. You do not have to search for the flavor but it doesn't beat you over the head.

The mouth feel is mildly creamy which matches the description on their website. I do not get the orange notes they mention, just pleasant woodsy leaves.

I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something, since I used more water than I intended - around 12 ounces. There were a couple of ounces left over in the kettle, that I did not remember leaving, so the mug was fuller than expected.

Leaves After Brewing
Trying again, with the same amount of leaf, the only thing I planned to change was the amount of water - this time I used six ounces. I kind of got distracted (again) researching on Google and let this steep for about five minutes instead of the intended three.

What I got with this time was a very bitter cup. The flavor otherwise was still similar to the first, light and woodsy.

My words of warning are don't over steep this one.

I tend to really enjoy light straight teas, especially complex white teas. For me this tea was fine though not overly complex. If you love big, bold, highly flavored teas, this one may prove too light for you to enjoy.  If on the other hand a quieter simple woodsy flavor appeals to you, this might be a good fit.

You can find Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Oolong Tea here.

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend who is beginning to source Nepali teas - I think it's only going to grow. Much of the "Darjeeling" we drink now is Nepali already.