For a while now, I’ve been enjoying black teas more than I have been for quite some time, and that coupled with a strange impulse to meander down tea-roads less travelled has lead me to, amongst others, these leaves.
Gruzia Tjakvi is a black tea from Georgia. The raw material hails from Chakvi, and was hand plucked and then processed completely by hand by a single family in what vendor House of Tea call in their notes “very small scale“. They also go on to say that the tea bushes these leaves were harvested from are of Chinese origin.
STiR, the tea and coffee industry’s trade magazine, has an interesting article about the history of tea production in Georgia, which can be found here.
The fact that these leaves have Chinese roots coupled with the fact that appearance wise they kind of resemble a strip Oolong convinced me that my initial attempts at steeping this tea should be gong-fu based.
|Weight of dry leaf:||6½ grams|
|Infusion style:||Asian / Gong-fu|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a first infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 20 seconds, then @ 30, 40, 60, then finally 90 seconds for a total of 8 infusions.|
The aroma and taste of the wet leaf was very interesting. Uppermost was the unmistakable sweet but tart nip of dark red forest berries, but the foundation was a very complex thing that I have a simple description of.
The base on which that berry thing was built reminded me of the inside of our small wooden summer house by the sea. That simple sentence masks a myriad of intertwined sensations – barbecues, hot granite, a rain drenched and saturated forest floor, summer scorched and parched beech and pine.
Wondering if my taste buds and imagination were ganging up to play tricks on me, I asked Mrs. Teaist for a second opinion. She agreed with me, surprised that these leaves had been capable of pressing so specific a set of memory buttons.
This, it has to be noted, is an exceptionally clean tea. Even at the end of the session there was only a few minute particles of debris in my tea strainer.
There’s a nice body here, too, milky rather than creamy, but still capable of being lip smackingly sticky.
The first notable signs of slip showed up after the fourth round, so I started upping the infusion times accordingly, but after an 8th 90 second long steeping the session had run its course.
As you might have guessed this tea also performs well when steeped Western style. Dropping 5 grams in the 350 ml clay pot I use specifically for black teas I got three nice rounds out of the leaves, with infusions of 4, 5, and 8 minutes duration.
All in all this was an intriguing and pleasant first encounter with Georgian tea, and now that teas from that country are firmly on my tea radar I’ll definitely be looking to dig a bit deeper. Good stuff.