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!

Mi Xiang Dark Roast Oolong / Verdant

Flavor and aroma descriptors are fascinating.

Take two people drinking the same batch of tea steeped for the same amount of time in the same cup and both could still pick up different nuances.  Step beyond that though and think about some of them.

Tar. Granite. Compost.

Not many who say that a tea has these characters but even if they do you have to wonder, so… did you chew on some tar? Lick some granite? Perhaps it comes down more to the aroma seeping into ones nose and enveloping the liquid flavor? Why get so philosophical?

This tea is intense, that’s why. It teases with a toasty earthy aroma that quickly dissipates the moment th water is poured on the leaves. High minerality in flavor.

I probably did like a rock or two in middle school. Master Zhang has perfectly roasted this tea to create notes of honey that pair so deeply with the toast notes. Steeped for over three minutes and it gives me hints of bourbon! Stop playing with me!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy: Verdant Tea

Description:

“Mi Xiang” is literally honey fragrance, and a few sips give credence to the name. In other finishing styles, honey usually takes a backseat to more powerful florals and fruit flavors in Tieguanyin, but Master Zhang here has brought out the subtle, thick and rich honeyed quality of Tieguanyin through his precise roast. We have so much respect for Master Zhang’s values in roasting tea. So many workshops will roast to impart heavy handed roast flavor, and in doing so, burn their tea and compromise its original integrity. Master Zhang roasts slowly and with perfect precision so that even a tea this dark tastes only of itself and not of roasted flavor. The result is a tea full of honey, toast and oak, a cozy delight in cold months.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

King Dragon / Wendigo Tea

Big Red Robe. This tea is as unique as its name.

While some are closer to being a queen dragon with more floral notes this one deserves the title of King Dragon with hints of smoke and earthy notes like oak, cedar, and damp soil.

There is a surprising amount of mineral notes, especially in the aftertaste. Though it may be weird to say one tastes wet rocks, it really does have that flavor.

Perhaps with a bit of granite mixed in. The astringency is also unique. It doesn’t quite make you pucker your lips as some black teas do, however, it leaves a familiar texture in your mouth as often astringent teas do.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Wendigo Tea
Description

All arise for I am King Dragon, an ancient and illustrious oolong tea. I smell of exquisite honey, leather, orchids, and wet stone. My taste is of ripe peaches, earth, and smoke with a smooth lingering sweetness.

As reverence for my exalted nature for millennia I was simply known as “The King of Tea”. I also have been called an Imperial Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong or Royal Red Robe, but all you need to know is that if you are to unleash my all-powerful leaves into the water, all other teas must bow before me.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Fire Roasted Oolong / Esteemed Tea Collective

Tea packaged in a plastic bag is a big no-no for me. Wasn’t expecting much from this tea because of that but this is one of those times when one enjoys being wrong. This is a hidden gem. One of those teas that could easily be messed up at any point in the brewing process or ruined by eating while drinking. And yet… it’s such an easy tea to brew as long as you stick by it and savor every minute of it.  My nose is thoroughly perplexed by the dry leaf aroma. It smelled like men’s cologne and it’s really messing with my senses. Maybe I touched something? I have no idea… So the aroma is off for me but the flavor is exceptional. The leaves are exceptional. Tightly wrapped leaves.

So far in this tasting journey it has been tasted every 20-30 seconds after the first minute. The best flavor is experienced within the first 1-2 minutes. The clear and very slightly ambered broth looks as if it would carry no taste but it has this amazing sweetness to it. A slight astringency but it’s almost not worth noting.

The website is impressive. Sleek and stylish but also somewhat Japanese in the way that everything is simple. For a purist like myself I truly love companies like these because they focus on single origin and single batch teas. No blends, just straight up tea, like it’s meant to be.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Esteemed Tea Collective
Description:

Tasting notes: Fresh flavor with a touch of roasted barley, full-bodied with a sweet long aftertaste. This tea has been lightly roasted to preserve the taste and freshness.

Mood/Benefits: A great choice after a meal to clear up your palate and aid digestion, or as a Five o’clock tea to freshen yourself up after the exhausting day. Contains high theine content (tea caffeine), vitamins and minerals.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2018 Autumn Laoshan Green Oolong / Verdant

An aroma sweet like passion fruit custard.

Appearance twisted, crocodile skin green. Two leaves and a bud attached to a twig. Unfurl, gently, in water not so hot. The steam rises with bouquets of asparagus. They find your lips, those bouquets, and you wonder if you are not drinking a Camellia Sinensis but a Asparagus officinalis broth.

Minerality follows, slight but rounds the flavor out nicely. Cleansing mouthfeel with a bit of astringency in the aftertaste. This oolong has a much lower oxidation level then most.

Mr. He, tea master, has produced this tea to have almost the same percentage of oxidation that a Bilouchun does according to their special note included with the box.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy: Verdant Tea

Description:

This tea is the He Family’s answer to the challenge that oolong is only for southern China. Despite Laoshan Village only having fifty years of tea cultivation and oolong being the most technically demanding kind of tea in the world to produce, Mr. He comes through brilliantly. The careful kneading and rolling brings out a beautiful, pure expression of the minerality of the soil and the water. This tea is processed without a roast for a true green flavor of Laoshan.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!