Flavor: Sweet, floral aroma. Complex, tropical fruit punch flavor. Clean, tangy, fragrant finish.
Garden: This source is the most innovative and progressive tea producer we know. This husband and wife team cooperate with neighboring farmers to produce an impressive array of organically cultivated tea in the historical tea growing region of Songbolin in Nantou County. From wild and heirloom tea strains to modern hybrid cultivars of tea, they have researched and developed eclectic processing methods to make some unique and novel types of tea.
Harvest: Machine harvested, small batch, Fall 2015.
Flowers: Hand-picked, very small batch, fall 2015.
This batch of tea was made from organically grown Four Seasons Spring Oolong tea leaves and processed as GABA tea. This essentially means that the leaves were oxidized in an anaerobic atmosphere, which in effect, exposes the leaves to nitrogen instead of oxygen. This results in a much higher content of Gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA). This ingredient has been scientifically proven to be helpful in reducing high blood pressure and other stress related symptoms.
GABA tea is similar to a black tea in its character, yet it is unique in that it has almost no astringency at all. It brews a very smooth, sweet, balanced flavor that is soothing and relaxing. This combined with the fresh, floral qualities from the organically grown Osmanthus flowers give it a very distinct, tropical fruit punch character that is in a class of its own! The flowers were painstakingly hand-picked by this husband and wife team for days on end to produce this minimal batch of tea that we just happened to show up at the right time for. We were able to procure more than half of this batch that amounted to less than 10 kg total!
Mr. and Mrs. Xie manage their cooperative of certified organic farms in a way that combines tradition with an eclectic knowledge of tea production. They have an integrated understanding of what works in terms of tea cultivation and processing as well as consumer market trends. After visiting them numerous times in their home and gradually learning of their overall production that would only be humbly offered when warranted by our relentless questions, we discovered this tea type that is our first step in the direction of offering quality tea blends.
Our friends and fans of Eco-Cha have asked us for years if we will ever offer tea blends, in other words, tea leaves mixed with other natural ingredients such as flowers or herbs. While we've never been against the idea, we haven't made a pointed effort to source this product. We've simply been too immersed in the endless exploration of the highest quality Oolong and Black Teas that have made Taiwan world-famous.
Typically, when we sit down at Mr. Xie's tea table, he will brew tea that he has recently or is currently in the process of curing. In effect, we often get to try a type of tea we have never tasted before. This in itself is a gift freely offered by these modest and impressively knowledgeable tea farmers. On our most recent visit, he brewed some of this Osmanthus GABA tea. He never says what the tea is before we taste it and ask about it, which provides us with a kind of experiential quiz!
The prominent floral aroma that wafted in the air as it brewed made it clear that it wasn't just tea leaves being brewed. The delicate, sweet fragrance was very pleasant and not overpowering at all. Upon first sip, it was clear what type of tea was combined with the flower that we were not familiar with. The exceedingly smooth, balanced character of GABA tea was complimented by a vibrant floral, fruity sweetness that really tasted like a bowl of fruit punch. We immediately thought of its potential as an iced tea, and possibly a cold-brew. These explorations of brewing methods are still underway as we write this, and we look forward to hearing the results of your experiments with this very flavorful, refreshing brew!