Today, I will be focusing on the Luan Tze Oolong Tea. This is an organically grown high mountain (Kao Shan Cha) oolong tea. The raw tea leaves are harvested from the TTES # 17 (Qing Xin) cultivar.
The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is located in Bhan Khun Wang, Tambon Mae Win, Amphoe Mae Wang, Chiang Mai Province, north Thailand. The garden cultivates only five acres (2.02 hectares) of land, and of these five acres, only about half is covered in tea. The cultivars grown are the TTES #17 (Qing Xin) and TTES #12 (Jin Xuan). The tea garden has an average altitude above 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). The factory focuses completely on the production of oolong and green tea. A Google map of the Bhan Khun Wang area is provided below. For more information on the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, please visit their website here.
The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet, biscuity smell is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform dark greenish-brown color. There is a generous portion of buds that lean more to a golden color. The leaves are almost entirely whole leaves, many attached to stems with buds, and very few large fragments. There are no crumbs whatsoever. The leaves are obviously hand plucked, and based on the uniformity and good condition of the leaves, hand rolled. There was much care put into the production of this tea. The pluck is mostly two young leaves and a bud, with a few of the plucks not having a bud. The buds appear to be fairly young also. The leaves appear to be oxidized to about a 30% to 40% level. The smell of the dry leaves has scents of sweet dry tree bark, cinnamon, caramelized brown sugar, fresh baked biscuits, and baked peaches. As seems to be the case with all of the teas from Doi Inthanon Tea, the appearance and smell of the dry leaves are quite impressive.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 to 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more infusions out of the same serving of leaves.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden yellow color, like natural bee honey, and perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of stewed peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon, and reminds me of baked peach pie. The body is solid medium, with a honey-like tongue coating texture. The taste has notes of sweet tree bark, cinnamon, fresh baked biscuit, and light honey, with baked peach and floral undertones. The aftertaste is peachy and floral, and these two tastes linger for an impressive amount of time.
The infused leaves display either a fresh slightly dark forest green or greenish-brown color, evidencing an oxidation level of around 30% to 40%. 99.9% of the leaves are whole and attached to stems. The very few fragments I did find were of buds, not opened leaves. The majority of plucks have a bud attached also. The pluck is either two slightly more mature leaves and no bud, or two young leaves and a fairly young bud. The buds have an average length of about 0.5 inches (10 – 15mm). The leaves are long and lean more towards having a narrow shape. The leaves are soft, smooth, and leathery, having a more sturdy feel than the other two teas from Doi Inthanon. There are no bare stems in the mix. The smell of the infused leaves has scents of stewed peach, wet tree bark, biscuits, light honey, light flowers, and light cooked leafy green vegetables. Again, the appearance of the infused leaves is very impressive.
The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership went three for three with regard to receiving high marks on all samples that they sent to me. This Luan Tze Oolong, produced from leaves of the TTES 17 (Qing Xin) cultivar, had a higher quality, more refined taste than the Yun Bi and Jade Tea, both produced from leaves of the TTES 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar. As I mentioned in my two previous posts, one on the Yun Bi Oolong and the other on the Jade Tea, the amount of precision and care that is taken to harvest and produce the teas at Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is among the highest that I have seen. This is certainly the result of skillfully hand plucking and hand rolling the leaves. The quality of the aroma and taste are consistent through the first three infusions, and finally begin to gradually dissipate thereafter.
This Luan Tze Oolong, as well as the Yun Bi and Jade Tea, are all a true pleasure to analyze and appreciate from the moment that the package is opened. The management at Doi Inthanon Tea tells me that these products are not sold outside of Thailand, and in fact only sell these teas out of the small shops in and around the national park where the tea garden is located. With that being the case, I am truly honored to have had an opportunity to experience these teas, and I certainly hope this is not the last time I will get the pleasure of trying them. I am considering to purchase a small quantity of each of the three teas to offer on The Tea Journeyman Shop, as well as at tea tasting events that will focus strictly on teas from Thailand. Interested in trying some? Leave me a message of encouragement on this post or in a private email!
A huge thanks to the management at Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for their generosity in sending these phenomenal samples! Cheers!