While there is none of the tradition of tea in Thailand that exists in neighbouring Asian countries, more and more excellent Thai teas are finding their way to Western markets. A handful of European tea entrepreneurs have discovered the high quality leaf that growers in Thailand are producing. Entrepreneurs like the folks at Teamania.
Many of the cultivars, and the growers themselves, are originally from China, although the oolong processes used are largely in the Taiwan style. Like this exquisite pouchong-oolong. Light fermentation (or, if you prefer, oxidation) followed by a gentle roast produces this absolutely delightful tea.
Aroma out of the package of this Oolong Four Seasons is richly flower-ful and slightly fruity (dried apricot?), and further evoking that ethereal “iron” quality that presents itself in only a select few teas. Aroma and taste carry through to the cup. Leaves are bright, shiny, and tightly rolled, opening large and earthy when infused.
As usual when sampling oolongs and pouchongs, I prepared the tea in my one-cup ducky-design clay pot. I generally cover the bottom of the pot with leaf; the leaves expand with each infusion until they fill the whole pot, which is the general idea of gongfu style tea preparation: lots of leaf and short successive steeps. After briefly rinsing the tea, I pour the rinse water into the fairness or sharing vessel (usually my two-cup Chatsford teapot) and then into my teacup to warm them before discarding the rinse water.
Following each infusion I pour the made tea into the two-cup pot, diverting a couple of mouthfuls into my teacup. In this way I can appreciate the evolution of the tea throughout the tasting and still have a pot of tea for uninterrupted drinking. Two infusions at a time are blended together in this manner.
I use fish-eye temperature water and increase the infusion time with each subsequent steep. How long do I let it steep? I couldn’t say exactly; just long enough. The wonderful aroma and taste have so far lasted through four infusions, and there seems to be enough life left in the leaves for at least another two infusions.
Teamania is located in Switzerland and prices are listed in Swiss francs which are currently converting at about US$1.08 to one CHF. One thing I definitely like about Thai teas is that they are very well priced for the quality: this tea is currently listed at about US$21 for 200g or a little over seven ounces.
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All content Copyright 2013 JP Badarau; all rights reserved.
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