Monday, August 11, 2014

What-Cha, Kenya Hand Rolled Purple Varietal Oolong

10g Sample
What-Cha Description:
A unique oolong unlike any other we have tasted before, made from the purple varietal tea plant which gives the tea a unique plum taste and purple tint. A rare and unusual tea which is not to be missed.

Sample provided by What-Cha (Tea Redefined)

My Review:
Today I am again digging in to the purple teas from What-Cha. I have several different types of teas from them yet to review but I am currently fascinated with learning something new. In case you are curious, the background of the sample picture is a shot of one of my many Kerbal Space Program adventures. I thought it added a nice touch to the sample picture.

Long Dry Leaf
Opening the bag made me check the label. This is oolong? Yes. Yes, it says that it is. But it smells so malty and bready (probably not a real word). Then I removed the leaf. I jumped to the computer and checked the website. It matches their picture. This looks like no oolong I recall trying. Every one that I have had previously has been tightly rolled into little nuggets with the stem sticking out the end.

This is very long twisted tentacles or tarantula legs of brown and cinnamon colored goodness. It is very dark but not really purplish tinted compared to the purple green teas I tried previously. It is an cool looking leaf.

I considered using the gaiwan until I saw the leaf. Instead I grab my trusty Bodum press. By the way I broke my beautiful crystal teapot this morning. I didn't have hold of the lid and it hit the spout, breaking it clean off. I loved that pot. Stuff happens. Back on track: The instructions on the label say to use 1-2 tsp per cup. I used 2. Steep at 175 F for 2-3 minutes. I shot for 2 1/2.

A Malty Mug
The liquor looks like ale.  It is brighter in appearance than I think I captured here. It turns a lot darker as it cools, taking on a greyish/purple tint. I couldn't stand the wait to start sipping and fortunately it didn't take long to cool enough for me to get started.

The first sip is not what I expect. Not even close. When I think oolong I imagine one of two things. Green oolong generally tastes floral like geranium or even latex at times. Dark oolongs are often heavily roasted and spicy. This is neither.

What I am tasting is malt and honey with light caramel. This part of it really reminds me of Tan Yang and even the Dian Hong Golden Tips I had  earlier this morning. Seriously, this is one of my very favorite Chinese black tea flavor profiles - and it is found in a oolong from Kenya. Awesome!

Along with what I just described I do get a fruity taste that matches what has been described as plum in the other purple teas reviewed earlier. There is no bitterness. Only the slightest bite, if I even should call it that. It is like the tea is thick, not gritty, but it pulls across your tongue. It is only slightly drying. The aftertaste is sweet, lingering, and fruity.

Steeped Leaf
For those of us who can't help but play with our food, or in this case our tea leaf, I include a picture of the steeped leaf (after the first steep). It appears to be mostly two leaves and the stem. It does have a purplish cast to it.

This is stated to steep multiple times and I am about to find out after posting the review.

To some up my thoughts: If you are a fan of the Tan Yang and Dian Hong type teas, you really owe it to yourself to grab some of this tea from Kenya and see if you don't agree that it is similar and an awesome tea in its own right. The fruity plum aftertaste takes this over the top.

You can find Kenya Hand Rolled Purple Varietal Oolong here.

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