Monday, October 13, 2014

What-Cha, Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea

What-Cha Description:
A unique tightly rolled green tea with a citrus nose and well defined lemon blossom taste, a rare and unusual tea which is not to be missed.

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:
Our building project over the summer has really gotten me behind on my reviews. Apologies to What-Cha and the other tea companies on my list for not being able to keep up the pace.

Today is another exciting and unique offering from Nepal. Why is it called Cannon Ball? Only guessing here, but pouring out some of these monster balls of leaf, it just sort of fits. As you can see in the picture the balls are not particularly even in size. The smaller ones are about the size of your average oolong nugget. The bigger ones, well see for yourself - right below the monster at the top left of the picture is an oolong sized nugget that is partially hidden.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The leaf is packaged in aluminum resealable pouch that is simply and clearly labelled. The leaf sent is very delicious. It is kind of a mix of bread, honey, malt, and hay. I want to eat that smell!

The instructions say to use 4-5 balls per cup. Well, my cup is actually a mug and I use 10 oz of water, so I'm using 7 cannon balls. I used 167 F water and steeped for 2 1/2 minutes.

The leaf was interesting to watch. It did not dance in the water, instead it sort of mushroomed. Bubbles gassed out of the balls as they slowly expanded. You can see in the wet leaf picture that the leaf is still holding on to the tightly wound ball shape.

The scent of the wet leaf, and actually the appearance, reminded me of steamed veggies. I used to call it spinach, which I only eat raw, so I think steamed is way more intense than this. It is a very nice steamed flavor whatever the scent.

The brew is a white grape color when poured and turns a little more golden as it cools. The little bit of cloudiness I got was my fault. I removed the strainer to examine the leaf and drained a little remaining tea out of the bottom without straining. Maybe not as attractive but definitely does no harm.

The taste of the first cup is crisp, vegetal, and savory. It is not even suggestive of the aroma of the dry leaf. It is similar in many ways to other green teas, yet unique as well. There is a dryness (astringency) that doesn't really stand out at first but becomes more noticeable as you continue to sip. There's also a bite that hinges on good bitter without crossing the line. Late in the sip, and on into the aftertaste, is a citrus note. What-Cha calls it lemon blossom. I have never been privileged to that scent, so I'll take their word for it.

This appears to be a prime candidate for resteeping. I fired up the kettle and went for round two. Some of the leaf rose to the occasion but mostly it unfurled and made a leaf bed on the bottom. As the press was turned to get a better view, the bed wiggled and swayed like jello. The scent is more intensely lemon now. I didn't notice the dryness as much but the bitterness was more intense. It crossed the line a little much for me. To be fair I used only 8 oz of water this time with the extra leaf. I added a little sweetener to tame the taste. It balanced out well. Now the citrus really pops and I get a fairly strong nuttiness early in the sip and a healthy dose of grassy vegetal late, before once again turning citrus in the aftertaste with floral notes drifting in between the grass and the citrus. This really took to sweetening well.

I may come back to this one later. I have read reviews that claim the third steep is the best. I look forward to finding out for myself. Right now though, meatloaf is being served in the kitchen and it just happens to be one of my very favorite meals. It's a good day when you can have great tea and a great meal.    

This is a unique green tea and worth giving a try. You can find Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea here.

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