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


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!

GABA Oolong Tea #52 from Tea Chai Te

GabaOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Tea Chai Te

Tea Description:

This high mountain oolong is truly a must-try. Gaba teas are unique in that they are fermented in nitrogen-rich environments making them very complex, with both rich and subtle flavors that change over time and differ with each steeping. Unique with its gentle sweetness giving it hints of yam. Also a natural relaxant.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the first GABA oolong that I have tried, and if any are similar to this GABA oolong from Tea Chai Te, I can definitely get in on it!

First off, what does it mean to be a GABA tea? I’ve heard that phrase thrown around a few times by many different companies. So what does it do? GABA is just an acronym for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. It is known for having a calming effect on the nervous system. GABA is also in other types of foods, such as . It occurs naturally in this low elevation Taiwanese oolong. To amp up the glutamic acid goodness in the leaves, farmers partially shade the leaves for two weeks before picking the leaves, which sounds oddly similar to how sencha is made. Both are also high in L-Theanine, which gives tea it’s energy. While the oolong is being shaded, nitrogen is added to the air, which makes the levels of GABA go crazy. It does sound crazy when I word it like that, but to put it in simpler terms, what the nitrogen gas does to the glutamic acid in the tea, really nice conditioner does to your hair. It makes it lovelier, smoother and gives it a nice fragrance.

I was having a rough day all around, and drinking this tea made it all better. It was quite aromatic, throwing in a good amount of the forest green oolong pellets into my teapot. I had to stop myself from doing nothing but sniff the leaves! When it got time to brewing, I was distracted by all the annoying e-mail and text messages that I almost forgot all about my tea! But I took a deep breath, turned off all electronic devices, and closed my eyes as I sipped. The warming and sweet aroma of milk caramel candies and rich clover honey unfolded from each inhale and came to life at each sip. Thanksgiving came to mind when I discovered a lingering taste of candied yams at the finish. I did feel less stressed after drinking this tea, although I cannot tell that it was the act of drinking the tea itself or the phytonutrients in the GABA. Either way, this is a delicious and fascinating tea, good for many, many steeps.

Organic Frankincense GABA Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas

FrankincenseOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Tea Description:

This organic oolong tea, from Nantou, Taiwan, has gorgeous fruit and honey notes. These leaves are especially rich in GABA, a natural enzyme that calms and relaxes. Mandy uses finest hojary frankincense, with its balsamic notes and citrus undertones that marries beautifully with this full-bodied tea. These tightly rolled leaves unfurl during the first steeping, and may be re-infused up to 4 times, retaining their fragrance.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yes, I’ve sampled this Organic Frankincense GABA Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas before.  I’ve written a review about it before.  But I want to revisit it because as I near the end of my time as a tea reviewer, I want to take some time to acknowledge some pretty fantastic teas.  This tea was in my stash and I thought that this one was certainly worthy of reviewing again!

I steeped this the way I typically steep an Oolong – in my gaiwan, of course!  I did a 15 second rinse and then steeped it for 45 seconds for my first infusion.  For each infusion that followed, I added 15 seconds onto the steep time.  My first cup is a combination of infusions 1 and 2 while the second cup is infusions 3 and 4.

FrankincenseOolong2What I notice first about these teas from Aftelier is the exquisite aroma.  This one in particular has a very pleasant aroma that makes me think of what I might smell if I were to walk into one of those exotic import type of shops in the mall with the beautiful tapestries hanging on the walls.

With my first sip I noticed a floral note that reminded me a little bit of rose.  Then I started to pick up on notes of orange.  There is a pleasant undertone of caramel and the Oolong has a slightly toasty flavor that nicely complements the notes of caramel and the orange notes.  There is a gentle warmth to the cup.  Delicate notes of spice.

My second cup was more subdued.  I still tasted the aforementioned flavors:  spice, orange, soft caramel-y notes, hints of toast and even a slight buttery flavor that tastes more of browned butter than of a fresh, creamy butter.  The floral notes are still there too, although I can’t say that I’m tasting rose any more.  It’s just a gentle flower note that has softened since the first cup.  It’s a sweet and beautiful flavor.

This tea is quite unlike any Oolong I’ve ever tasted.  That’s what impresses me so much about the teas from Aftelier is that the teas are very fine quality and that they’re different from teas you’ll experience from any other purveyor.  This is NOT your standard issue.

Taiwan GABA Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

GabaFongMongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

GABA tea is an all-natural source of GABA. It was discovered more than 20 years ago by Japanese researchers looking for a natural method to preserve food. They discovered that tea which is oxidized in a nitrogen-rich atmosphere has a higher concentration of GABA elements than any other types of tea.  

GABA tea production involves exposing fresh tea leaves to nitrogen instead of oxygen. The fresh tea is placed in stainless steel vacuum drums and the oxygen is removed and replaced with nitrogen. The tea leaves are exposed to this nitrogen-rich atmosphere for about 8 hours. The temperature must be kept above 40 degrees Celsius for the duration of the processing. This procedure produces the highest concentrations of natural GABA.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Of the different Oolong types that are out there, I think that the one I’ve had the least amount of experience with are GABA Oolong teas.  To my recollection, I’ve had fewer than a handful of GABA teas.

But since it is an Oolong and not a “flavored” one, I’m going to brew it the same way I’d brew other Oolong teas:  in my gaiwan!  I “eyeballed” an amount of tea leaf that looked to be about a bamboo scoop.  I didn’t use the bamboo scoop because this leaf is so large and bulky and stemmy that it wouldn’t measure properly anyway.  So, I just eyeballed it.

The reason this tea is kind of “stemmy,” according to Fong Mong Tea:

The twigs contain the most enzyme. For the healthy purpose, we kept the most twigs for our tea consumers. 

I heated the water to 180°F.  I did a preliminary rinse of the leaves (15 second steep, then I strained the liquid and discarded it) and then I steeped the first infusion for 45 seconds and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  My first cup is comprised of the combination of infusions 1 and 2, the second cup is infusions 3 and 4, and … you get the drift.

This does taste different from the Oolong teas I’m typically drinking, but there are some familiar flavors here too.  It is sweet and nutty with delicate notes of spice.  It has a lighter flavor than a lot of Oolong teas – this doesn’t have that heavy “creamy” taste and texture that so many Oolong teas have.  There is some creaminess to this, but it’s much lighter.  I like the texture – it’s refreshing.

So it started me wondering, what is GABA Oolong, anyway?  I found this information on the listing for this tea in Fong Mong Tea’s ebay store:

GABA is an amino acid that is produced by the human body. GABA stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid. Its main function is to inhibit the firing of neurons in the brain. Because of this inhibitory function, GABA sends messages to the brain, spinal cord, heart, lungs, and kidneys to slow down.

The second cup was a bit darker in color than the first and the flavor was also stronger.  It has a strong nutty flavor to it, and a roasty-toasty quality.  I’m picking up on subtle peach notes now.  The spice notes are more pronounced in this cup, I can taste mild notes of cinnamon and it’s quite nice!  Very autumnal tasting, this tea.

My third (and final) cup had a smoother taste, where the flavors – nutty, toasty, peach and spice – seemed to come together in a seamless flavor.  It’s quite pleasant and relaxing to sip.

A really lovely cup of Oolong.  Different, yes.  But different can be good and it is definitely good in the case of this GABA Oolong from Fong Mong Tea.

Oolong Black Pearls from Tea Mania


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Mania

Tea Description:

This Oolong originates from Doi Mae Salong and is also known as GABA Tea. This because of its high GABA. Oolong Black Pearls is a hand-picked and rolled Oolong # 12 which was oxidized 100%. Therefore, it’s a black tea too. But, the flavor isn’t bitter like some black tea. It’s more floral and honey-like. Quite comparable with a Darjeeling. The preparation is classic Oolong style: Rinse, first a short infusion, second infusion a bit longer, third infusion even longer, etc. Can also be infused cold as ice tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m always excited to try teas from new-to-me companies, like this Oolong Black Pearls tea from Tea Mania.  And what a delightful tea this is!

The tightly wound leaves look like a green Oolong (and like the picture above) but, they are much darker in color.  I think that perhaps the website has the wrong photo linked for the tea … these leaves are much darker, reminiscent of a rich chocolate color.  They are quite fragrant with lovely floral tones.

It is very flavorful … and I agree with the above description.  The flavor is quite similar to a Darjeeling, but the body and texture is a bit thicker, more like an Oolong.  There is no bitterness whatsoever, it is sweet … sweet like honey!

There are lovely floral notes to the flavor, but they are not as prolific as in a greener Oolong.  This has more of a fruity note to it, reminiscent of a ripe, juicy apricot.  For those who tend to shy away from the greener Oolong teas because of their strong floral essence, I think that you’ll find this Oolong to be more to your liking … it’s much more like fruit than it is like flower.  There are still floral notes there, and I find them to be more pronounced if you slurp the cup to aerate the tea over the palate.  I find these floral tones complement the fruit tones and they enhance the sweet honey notes as well.

There are subtle hints of earth to the flavor as well as slight woody notes.  It’s really quite complex, with so many delicious layers of flavor to discover.  A really wonderful Oolong – I’m so glad I got to try it – and it’s one I’m happy to recommend to all the Oolong enthusiasts out there!