Monday, January 5, 2015

What-Cha, Vietnam Flowery Oolong Tea

What-Cha Description:
A brilliant oolong tea with a creamy smooth texture and delightful floral taste.

All our Vietnamese teas have been sourced by Geoff Hopkins of Hatvala, who regularly travels Vietnam in search of the best teas, all of which are sourced direct from the tea producers. 
It is Hatvala's mission to raise awareness of the high quality Vietnamese teas which are often overlooked on the world market and it my pleasure to assist by making Hatvala's full range of Vietnamese teas available on What-Cha.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
It has been a while since I have reviewed an oolong. This one hails from Hatvala Vietnam. I have sampled a couple Vietnam teas and they have been exceptional. Let's see if the trend continues.

Pulling open the top of the pouch releases a bouquet of floral notes along with a spicy note that vaguely reminds me of clove and cinnamon, or maybe cardamon. The aroma is very nice.

The leaf is rolled into nuggets typical of oolongs. A tiny bit of stem projects out the end. These things are camouflage green.

I used about 1/3 of the 10 gram sample for my session. The clear teapot is once again employed as it seems the logical choice to watch the leaf unfurl as it steeps. About 10 ounces of water was heated to 194F.

The steep was 2 1/2 minutes. This is the middle range of the 2-3 shown on the label. The website calls for a range of 1-2 minutes. This difference probably explains why my leaf completely unfurls after one steep and the picture on What-Cha's product page shows them only partially relaxed.

You can see in my picture, I had a pot full of leaf. It was very active during the steep. The nuggets were rockin' and rollin' on the bottom then raced to the surface before blossoming while I watched. A neat dance.

The fragrance out of the pot as I removed the lid was like spring. It is about 9 F (-12C) here today and headed for colder tomorrow. The aroma is a wonderful distraction and even more bold than the dry leaf. I did notice a roasted note here as well. So I am not sure what I am in for when tasting.

Just look at all the huge leaves that unfurled from the dry nuggets. They are dense, green, and very alive in appearance.

As clear as the liquor looks in the teapot, it turns a sort of yellow tinted green in the mug. It is much clearer than it appears in the picture.

Upon the first sip my initial reaction is Mmmm, creamy. Then after another sip, I am thinking creamed corn. Then I notice the floral taste that is often described as orchid. Having never put my nose in an orchid blossom (something I should attempt - soon) I cannot confirm. It is floral. It is sweet and it is pleasant. Paying very close attention, I can catch faint scents of the roasted note I caught in the pot.

Prepared as I have done today, this has just a small amount of bite late in the sip and a moderate amount of dryness. The aftertaste lingers long after the sip is gone. It is that flavor that for lack of a better description, I always call geranium.

Because this is an oolong, it should resteep many times throughout the day, so don't throw those leaves out without trying.

I do think next time I will use a gaiwan and several short steeps. That way the leaf will open more gradually and I can enjoy the changes in flavor with each cup. I'm not sure how much it could possibly improve as the western mug style I used today made a wonderful tea session.

I do recommend trying a Vietnam sampler. I think it will surprise you.

You can find Vietnam Flowery Oolong Tea here.

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