Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gankou Oolong - Fresh


Cultivars: various Wuyi mountain cultivars that were brought from Fujian over 100 years ago
Place: Gankou village, south of Taiwan
Harvest: Spring 2012
Process: Semi-oxidized Oolong, rolled, lightly roasted.
Competition brewing: 3 grams for 6 minutes in a white porcelain set with boiling water.

Appearance of the dry leaves:

Greyish green. This color is explained by the salt from the ocean that is brought by strong winds. Indeed, we can see below how close the plantation is to the Pacific.


The conditions down here are very different from anywhere else in Taiwan. The elevation is very low (less than 100 meters above sea level). The temperatures remain hot almost all year long. And this means that the sun shines especially strong on these tea trees.

How do they survive? The researchers at the Taiwan Research and Extension Station found out that the roots of the old trees extend much deeper than elsewhere in Taiwan. The various and unidentified Wuyi tea bushes that were brought here 4/5 (tea farmer) generations ago have proved to be very adaptable.

But human effort and ingenuity also explains the resistance of this plantation. The farmers made sure that there would be high and strong trees around the tea plantation. These big trees act like a protecting barrier. And instead of using herbicides or fertilizers, we can see that the farmer puts dead wood between the rows of tea bushes. This prevents other plants from growing and provides food for the trees as they decompose.
The plantation hosts many different kinds of tea trees. This one, above, for instance, with its very large leaves really resembles more a bush in Wuyi than in Nantou!

The brew has a dark yellow color. This reflects a concentration of flavors.

The dry fragrance smells particularly sundried. There is no hint of freshness here! However, once brewed, the tea releases very fruity and sunny aromas. The notes are rather low and deep, though, and very different from a high mountain Oolong.

The taste is almost full body. What surprises most is a slight salty/soury taste that feels a little bit like the aftertaste of salty sea water in the mouth. Overall, there are no displeasing aromas and the brew feels natural and powerful.
The open leaves show their diverse tree origins and a medium oxidation level. 
Such oxidation level makes them good candidates for a more thorough roasting. And that's why I also brought some medium roasted leaves.
This view of the Pacific shows the ocean that faces the Gankou Oolong tea plantation. Sun and sea characterize pretty well this very unique Oolong tea!

4 comments:

David said...

I have such good memories of this tea in an older version !

Kim Christian said...

Me too !! Looking forward to try this soon !!

charlotte billabongk said...

Cette plantation bénéficie d'un cadre exceptionnel qui donne à ce thé un caractère tout à fait singulier, d'après ce que je comprend de ce bel article. Cela fait très envie. Il est toujours intéressant de voir l'influence de l'environnement sur le thé.

Il est vrai aussi que les théiers anciens, souvent obtenus à partir de graines, offrent des racines qui plongent profondément dans le sol et parviennent ainsi à puiser une force considérable. A l'inverse, on peut constater que les théiers obtenus par bouturage (...) développent un système racinaire plutôt en forme de parapluie, qui plonge moins profondément dans la terre... As-tu constater cela à Taiwan aussi ?

Stephane said...

David and Kim,

The one you remember had a medium roasting! This unroasted version is on my selection for the first time.

Charlotte,

Merci pour ton commentaire et ton observation judicieuse. En effet, les théiers de cette plantation sont obtenus à partir de graines!