Regular readers of this blog might just remember that when it comes to tea leaves normally used in the production of one class of tea being processed in the style of a different class of tea, well, I’m an easy mark. Once I saw this tea, Assam material given the Oolong treatment, it was in my shopping cart before I had time to think about it.
House of Tea’s notes describe this as a very unusual tea, with only 5 kilos produced annually by a pair of families in Assam. The raw material, as you might have expected, comes from the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica varietal, and is a cultivar named Teenali.
As I tend to do these days with Indian teas I opted to go down the Western steeping route, and besides, looking at those small, fine leaves I was of the opinion that any attempt to gong-fu them would result in a messy and unsatisfactory session…
Water Used: Filtered tap water
Weight of dry leaf: 3 grams
Infusion style: Western
Steeping vessel: 200 ml ceramic teapot
Water temperature: 95°C
No. & duration: 3 infusions of 1, 1, and 1½ minutes duration
The dry leaf was pumping out a wonderful floral aroma that had me thinking of sweet peas, and after a few seconds in the warmed up pot I got a hooter full of an interesting cross-section of baked goods – cookies, bread, and pie-crust.
The first infusion took me quite by surprise. I certainly wasn’t expecting that degree of complexity right out of the gate. The first sip was heavily floral, but also had a pleasing red-wine like astringency, backed up by a sort of vanilla ice-cream deal, one that had a weird cooling effect on the inside of the mouth. Right off the bat the liquor boasted a lovely, deep colour, and was lip-stickingly smooth and creamy. The twin aromas of baking and flowers clung to the inside of the empty cup.
The second round saw the astringency turned up a notch, but not so much so that it overpowered everything else.
The third steeping was perfectly drinkable, but I definitely got the feeling that trying to tease another round out of these leaves would be pushing my luck somewhat.
As I said above, I simply love these kinds of experiments, where leaves are on the receiving end of non-standard processing, and this is another very nice example of the type. It seems that more and more farmers and factories want a slice of this kind of “crossover” action, which can only be a good thing if the result is more interesting and delicious new teas to tempt us with.