Thursday, December 4, 2014

What-Cha, Vietnam Wild 'Tiger Monkey' Green Tea

What-Cha Description:
A wild growing green tea with a woody taste which develops with subsequent steeps.
Unusually, it does not use a drum oven to fire and dry the tea but rather it is done by hand utilising a wood fired cast iron pan.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
Getting to today's review has been more difficult than usual. It quickly became needed as a distraction and sanity break from dealing with bureaucracy. When dealing with the government, losing your old email account before you are able to update your profile with them, means you become trapped in a parallel universe that seemingly will never reconnect with this one. I shall prevail, I am just not sure how - yet.

Once I was able to actually brew this tea the first time, I was endlessly interrupted by well meaning but otherwise oblivious and apparently really bored family members. I tried to involve them in a little tea tasting session. That quickly devolved into a pointless endeavor. I finally gave up for the day and had to just walk away. Fortunately, I have more of this tea and a little quiet time (O please let it be so) where I can concentrate and keep things simple.

dry leaf
One of the glorious things about tea is, though it may take some skill to brew a good cup, it is not so complicated as to become frustrating. In fact, I find tea is usually quite forgiving and the time and effort is rewarded with a relaxing clarity. To me, tea is spiritual in nature, joining earth, man, and art, with the divine. But enough rambling. On to the tea-

As always, love the resealable aluminum bag and clear printed label. Opening the bag I catch very light roasted notes. The label mentions hints of smoke. To me, it is roasted nuts with vegetal notes. It almost reminds me of hojicha but way more subdued. Really the scent is very light.

wet leaf
When I removed a scoop of leaf, it looked to me exactly like the leaf used in a Vietnamese lotus scented tea that I love. I quickly grabbed some of that leaf to compare and I am pretty sure the leaf is either from the same farm or processed so similarly as to appear identical in its olive color, with both having the same leaf twist and curl. This one is unscented, so the comparison will end here.

The Bodum press once again served the mighty mission. 175 F filtered water was used and the recommended two minute steep. The wet leaf is plump and alive. It looks so thick, fresh, and green. The aroma of the leaf does now contain a light smoky element.

The brew is golden in color. When it is first poured I see tiny little leaf fuzz floating throughout the mug. This quickly settles and disappears.

Ooohhh, this is such a mellow cup. It is lightly vegetal, slightly sweet, with a hint of smoke. There is a light touch of cheek tingle. It has a mild green tea bite but doesn't even hint at bitter. This is a very nice cup.

For my second cup, I steeped about 2 1/2 minutes. The color of the brew was very similar to the first. Again I catch hints of smoke in the wet leaf but more vegetal this time. The sip differs from the first by adding a mineral note that is almost salty. It has slightly more bite. I notice nuts in the aftertaste along with a grassiness. Another solid cup.

Here is something I am learning from my experience with What-Cha, China and Japan are not the only tea growing areas that do green tea and do them well. This one from Vietnam is a really worthy example. I highly recommend grabbing some samplers from different regions and broadening your horizons.

You can find Vietnam Wild 'Tiger Monkey' Green Tea here.

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