Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter 2010 Gan Kou Oolong

Various Wuyi tea cultivars,
Handpicked in December 2010,
In the hills near Gan Kou in southern Taiwan.
Process: Roasted Oolong

The most unusual characteristic of these dry leaves is their white greyish appearance. Add the fact that the leaves are rolled quite loosely and one could almost mistake it for an aged Oolong. Contrary to high mountain Oolong, the dry leaves feel quite light on the hand. Their scent is quite warm and sweet with hints of dark chocolate.

The yellow brown brew has a good clarity.

There are scents of dry wood, ripe fruit, chocolate and some sea weeds. This strange combination feels very natural. The roasting smell is present in the wet leafs.

The overall taste is sweet, but there are small hints of salty bitterness. The aftertaste then takes a more salty turn. It feels like after a swim in the sea. The mouth feels dry and salty, which creates a little itching and watering in the mouth. It's a very active and warm feeling. The tongue seems to generate a sweet saliva to fight the taste of salt. This energetic feeling lasts very long.

This warm, sweet and salty taste is unlike other Taiwanese Oolongs. It's not the mountains or the countryside that impregnates this tea. It's the sea!

The previous tasting notes are the result of several brews with a gaiwan. We obtain similar results with the modern zhuni Xishi teapot, but the taste doesn't feel as sharp and has more depth.

The open leaves show that farmer has mixed several different teas. The roasting level isn't even. Oxidation is rather strong. This is normal for a low altitude and warm climate tea. The leaves show sign of insects biting. The farmer told me that he mixes various tea cultivars in order to add some complexity and make the brew smoother.
As you can see with my (sunset) Cha Xi, my setup, this tea that brought back very nice memories of the sea...

5 comments:

Petr Novák said...

Hi Stephane,

It sounds like something new for me, I should try this tea someday...It was pleasant to read. Can you please tell us a word about history of Wui cultivars on Taiwan? Thank you.


best
Petr

Stephane said...

Thanks Petr,
This farmer's ancestors came to southern Taiwan over 120 years ago. Like most Chinese immigrants to the booming Taiwan, at that time, they came from Fujian. Tea cultivars came with these immigrants or were imported by merchants to develop Taiwan's tea industry. Taiwan tea expanded after the opening of the port in Tamshui in 1860.

For instance, Taiwan's most famous luanze (qingxin) Oolong cultivar can be traced back to the Ai Jiao (short foot) cultivar from Fujian. It's not exactly the same. Once planted in another soil under a different climate, some mutations occurred.

Kim Christian said...

Love Gan Kou !!

David said...

The summer Gan Kou you brought back last time was very very good. I am eager to taste this one.

Your first photo is gorgeous.

Stephane said...

Thanks, Kim!

David, as you can see from the pictures, this one has a stronger roast than the one I brought back this summer.