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.

Vanilla Rose Chai from Tea Chai Té

The beautiful waterfall on the patio of the Sellwood location of Tea Chai Té.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea Chai Té

About Tea Chai Té:

We are a locally owned casual tea house specializing in handcrafted organic tea blends. We offer over 120 tea selections, of which 75 are organic. 15 unique handcrafted chai blends are made to order. We always have house brewed kombucha on tap and our bubble teas are stellar! We also offer high mountain oolongs, mate blends, apothecary teas, and more. Now featuring a special kids menu for little ones to enjoy the pleasures tea brings.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the newer blends available at Tea Chai Té – so new, in fact, that I cannot locate it on the website.  I guess it has not yet been added!  I picked this chai up when I visited the Sellwood location about a month ago.

I purchased three teas that day.  The Strawberry Sencha I selected because that is the tea I happened to order as an iced tea, so I wanted to take some home with me to try it hot (and of course, review it!)  I chose the Vanilla Macadamia Nut Maté because I don’t usually order Maté blends and I wanted to step outside my comfort zone.  I chose this chai because I simply could not resist it.  It sounded so yummy, I had to try it!

Wow!  This is incredible!  The spices are mellow and warm.  This is not a spicy chai.  It is warmly spiced; not spicy-hot.  I taste the cinnamon and cardamom most prominently.  The vanilla tones are almost as strong as the cinnamon, which gives it a sweet, creamy taste that is quite luxurious.  The touch of rose adds to that taste of luxury.

The black tea is not overwhelmed here.  It provides a richly satisfying, slightly malty tone in the background.  It supports the flavors of the spices as well as the vanilla and rose notes without attempting to overpower them – it is content to stay in the background and let the other ingredients do their thing.

I absolutely love this.  It is one of the best “mild” chai blends I’ve had, and while I usually tend to prefer a spicy-hot kind of chai, this is one that is so good I can see keeping it as a part of my permanent tea stash.  It’s that good!

Vanilla Macadamia Nut Mate from Tea Chai Té

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Maté

Where to Buy:  Tea Chai Té

Tisane Description:

This new organic yerba mate blend is fantastic with a nutty flavor and sweet vanilla aroma. Mate is blended with vanilla and macadamia nut oils.  Organic & Mateinated.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the three teas/tisanes that I picked up at the new Sellwood location (just look for a fiery red train caboose!) when I visited them a couple of weeks ago.  Yerba Maté is not typically something I’d choose and that’s one of the reasons that I selected this one.  I wanted to step outside my comfort zone a little bit.  That, and I couldn’t resist the flavor combination.  Vanilla and macadamia nut?  That sounds amazingly yummy.  I had to try it!

The aroma of the dry leaf is incredible.  It has a heady vanilla scent with a delicious nutty fragrance in the background.  The yerba maté appears to be either a green (possibly a smoked green) or a very lightly roasted yerba maté – or perhaps a blend of green and roasted yerba maté.  I kind of expected it to be a roasted yerba maté as I figured that the roasted tones would unite quite deliciously with the macadamia nut, so I was kind of surprised to see a green yerba maté here.

Oh!  This is really tasty.  I like the subtle vegetal notes as well as the earthy tones that the green yerba maté provide.  The vanilla is prominent, and it offers a very smooth, sweet flavor that is quite nice.  I’m used to tasting vanilla flavoring with the leaves of camellia sinensis, and I do enjoy vanilla flavored teas, but, I’m also really enjoying the vanilla yerba maté.  Because there is no astringency to the yerba maté, the creamy tones of the vanilla are not interrupted.  It is smooth from start to finish.

Also nice is the way the macadamia nut develops.  It starts out as a light flavor, weaving its way in and out of the sip, but not being very assertive one way or the other.  Then, by mid-cup, it is deliciously macadamia nutty!  YUM!

This is delicious served straight up and hot, but, it is also quite good iced.  I also think I might try making a latte out of this, it would be quite a decadent treat!

Strawberry Sencha from Tea Chai Té

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Tea Chai Té

Tea Description:

This Japanese sencha tea is flavored with bits of strawberry, creating a strong aroma reminiscent of frolicking in the buff, hand in hand with your lover, through a strawberry patch.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

On Tuesday, my dear husband took me out for lunch in the Sellwood neighborhood in Portland, and after lunch, he pulled up directions to the new Tea Chai Té in the neighborhood and asked me if I wanted to go.  Yes, I proclaimed quite enthusiastically!

I have tried teas from Tea Chai Té, but I haven’t actually been to either location (they have another location on 23rd Street in Portland).  So, I was really excited to check out this tea lounge.  This establishment is an old, red train caboose turned into a tea lounge.  This is not one of those fancy tea houses (although I like those too), this is a lounge, complete with a comfortable, casual atmosphere where people were reading their tablets and browsing the internet on their laptops.

I had ordered a 20 oz. cup of this tea iced, as well as purchased a 1 ounce loose leaf package to take with me.  And while I did enjoy the tea that they made for me at Tea Chai Té (and the guy who worked the counter was so pleasant), I have to admit that I’m finding this cup that I made myself to be much better than the one that was made for me.  This tastes stronger than that one did, so I suspect that either they should have made a more concentrated brew before icing it.

This is amazing.  The Sencha tastes and feels smooth and buttery.  The green tea offers a barely-there grassy note in the distance, while allowing the strawberry flavor to be the focus of this cup.

The straberry melds deliciously with the aforementioned buttery tones, giving it an almost berries and cream kind of quality.  Sweet, juicy strawberry flavor that tastes very authentic – like someone had liquified a fresh, ripe strawberry and added it to my teacup.  YUM!

Coconut Pouchong from Tea Chai Té

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pouchong

Where to Buy:  Tea Chai Té

Product Description:

This lightly fermented oolong tea is instilled with young coconut nectar. One of the most joyfully intense teas we have with a strong aroma and light mellow brew.  A popular favorite.

Taster’s Review:

Yummy!  The dry leaf smells so amazing from the moment I opened the pouch, my mouth started to water!  I anxiously awaited as it brewed.  Three minutes seemed to take FOREVER.

The natural creamy flavor of the Pouchong tea melds perfectly with the coconut flavor, and produces a cup that reminds me of the coconut water you would get from a fresh coconut – but with a softer, smoother mouthfeel.

The Pouchong base seems a perfect match for the sweet coconut flavor.  It is lush and vibrant.  The greener taste of this slightly oxidized tea lends a very fresh note to the coconut.

This tea doesn’t really need sweetener, but if you are one who prefers a sweeter tea, a little bit of agave nectar or honey wouldn’t hurt.  And recently during a trip to Whole Foods, I noticed a new kind of sweetener:  Coconut Nectar!  While it says it doesn’t lend a coconut-y flavor to what it sweetens, it would still be an interesting addition, wouldn’t it?

If you like coconut, you really must try this tea.  It is one of the very best coconut teas that I’ve ever tasted!   Totally YUM!