Ashmanra tries a GABA Oolong. . . Sparrow/Whispering Pines Tea

I have been wanting to try a GABA oolong for a long time and finally had the chance! GABA tea is supposed to be very supportive when dealing with stress. Who doesn’t have a bit of that?

I love that many of the teas from Whispering Pines are named for the memory or feeling they evoke, or for nostalgic places they bring to mind.

This is a listed as a heavily oxidized oolong. Don’t you love how much variation there is in oolong tea? They can be green or dark, smokey or floral, sweet or savory. But this doesn’t come out dark or smokey. It is golden grain-like.

I did not give this a rinse as I wanted to enjoy every drop. I made this in a gaiwan and timed it as the company recommends. The leaves expanded into beautiful, large leaves.

I used a scent cup because I want to fully experience this tea. The aroma in the scent cup is creamy grain, lightly savory, vegetal, and then…CHOCOLATE! More like melted milk chocolate bar than cacao, I suppose because of the creaminess.

The tea has a round mouthfeel with medium body. The flavor is cream and grain, and strongly reminds me of an olive leaf tisane I drank a few years ago. This is a most unusual oolong, unlike any I have tried!

Although the package gives instructions for three steeps, I kept it going for six. I extended the steeping time each steep until it reached five minutes and held it there. It never grew bitter or sour, but kept the same characteristics as the first steeps with a little lighter flavor.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea

Description

This heavily oxidized GABA oolong is bursting with rich aromatics and a super complex body! First impressions are of chex mix and chocolate, and it actually strongly reminds me of a baked chocolate chex mix that my mom makes sometimes. Other notes are a tartness almost akin to cherry and some slight spice in the finish. Really active mouthfeel and a creamy sweet finish! One of my go-to’s recently, Sparrow is also one of the best cost/value ratio teas I’ve come across.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Steeping Notes on GABA Oolong/Wang Family

Often times while drinking a new tea I like to have a session where I won’t read the companies description of flavor and aroma to avoid the influence.

But this one has been stumping me.

Sweet potatoes. Not a yam, do not confuse the two as many stores do. They are quite different.

Anyway, the dry aroma is very slight. Somewhat fruity, kinda creamy. Wet aroma reminded me of buttered noodles a few times but more often it is vegetal. And then the mysterious flavor of sweet potatoes in the golden liquid. It’s smooth on the tongue. Creamy but also has unique woodsy accents.

Mahogany maybe?


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Wang Family Tea

Description

Dry leaves are dark brown, and smell like dried fruit.  This tea brews up a bright golden-yellow color. First round of brewing has a flavor and aroma that is  reminiscent of roasted sweet potatoes. It tastes soft and mellow, and the aftertaste is lightly sweet. The second round brews up soft, but very thick.  There is a strong GABA aroma in the air. The flavor has become slightly acidic, with a dominant flavor of dried fruit. The third round is fruity, slightly acidic, strongly fruitly, and still retains a hint of roasted sweet potato. The energy of this tea is deeply relaxing.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2018 King of Thieves Dancong/Verdant

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This little phrase can be used time and time again with tea.

If you don’t like it the first time you try it, try it again. I was not impressed with my first session, so here we are trying again.

The dry aroma is better this time around. Somewhat floral, somewhat earthy.

The first time around is the best but I’m finding subtle floral notes that are nice in later steepings as well. The mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing.

While using my aroma cup I encountered I very briefly encountered some intense fruity notes with woodsy notes but couldn’t find it again after that. The leaves are a unique dark color but when wet they are outlined with lighter brown shades.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant

Description

贼王 or “King of Thieves” got its name from the famous story of a thief stealing this valuable tea tree in the middle of the night over 200 years ago, but leaving some of the roots and trunk in their haste to cut it down. King of Thieves growing today is said to have regrown from that little remaining root stock. This tea was hand picked and hand processed over 24 hours of intense labor to bring out its rich nuanced dessert-like flavor and spiced tropical undertones.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2003 Aged Ben Shan/Verdant Tea

Have you ever judged a book by it’s cover? Looked at a tea and thought, meh? I confess I did that with this one. I’m not a big fan of pu er and some other aged teas I’ve had were okay. But I figured let’s give this a try anyway.

I only have a 5g sample so I’m going to do everything right with this one. Using the gongfu method I’ll be trying to steep as many times as I can. (Ended up with around 5 or 6 steepings).

The dry aroma is very woody, dried wood with other earthy notes. When wet, the minerality immediately comes forth along with some clean earthy somewhat roasty notes. It is a unique aroma that is rich and deep but not overwhelming.

The flavor, likewise, is mineral. Soft on the palette. The second steeping has revealed interesting milky notes. Also with the second and third steeping, unique rye notes came out. Like rye bread without the bread. Heavier roasted notes towards the end.

If you guys are able to give this tea a try I highly suggest it. Just make sure you give yourself a good half hour to enjoy the tea as it should be. No tea mugs for this tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Description

The Ben Shan cultivar has a big, strong flavor that is full of all the fruit and sweet florals we love in Tieguanyin. Ben Shan is so rich that it is often sold as Tieguanyin or blended with Tieguanyin to make Tieguanyin taste more like Tieguanyin. Some of the oldest tea bushes on Master Zhang’s high mountain plot are Ben Shan varietal, planted by his grandparents. Ben Shan is used by Master Zhang in many of his Wulong revival experiments for its versatile nature and big, deep texture. Careful aging and roasting bring out unexpectedly tropical florals paired with a taut cooling minerality.

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Strawberry Crepes with Cilantro Cream/A Quarter To Tea

There is a new craziness in my life and it is called law school. Yay! But also boo! One step closer to my dreams but a whole lot of miles farther from my friends and family. I do have one great comfort from home though and that is my tea. My tea and (almost) all my teaware which is now proudly displayed on a bookshelf for all to see.

With this new chapter of my life beginning, I have been thinking about the past chapters and I think that’s what made this tea, A Quarter to Tea’s Strawberry Crepes with Cilantro Cream, stand out to me. Crepes have always said Montreal to me, my home for so many years during one of the best times in my life…my undergrad. Here’s hoping this tea is as delightful as the crepes I remember…and also that law school ends up being as amazing as my undergrad.

Drinking the tea, it is definitely a tasty tea however it is hard to discern any particular flavor at first. As I continue to drink, I am picking up some of the strawberry, sweet like a puree you’d find in/on a crepe. Though cilantro isn’t fully clear, there is a savory note at the end of the sip that is different but I can’t decide if I like it or not. The oolong seems to be bridging the gap between the sweet strawberry and the savory end note. At the top of the flavor is baked goods that is light and could be crepes but it could also be a puff or a bun or whatever bakery concoction I am told to look for by A Quarter to Tea.

This is a good tea but I don’t know if this stands out. A Quarter to Tea has made some outstanding blends but this seems to be more middle-of-the-pack. I am enjoying what I have and I am glad I have another cup worth of leaf remaining but at the end of the day, I don’t think I would reach for this tea over another tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy:  A Quarter To Tea

Description

It appears A Quarter To Tea is taking a short break but check out their FB page for updates.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!