What’s in my cup today (as the trendy marketing phrase goes)? Something unique and special from my favorite small tea farm in Thailand, The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. Their website gives some interesting information on the history of this tea farm prior to the cultivation of tea, so check it out! There are also some nice photos in their gallery.
Be sure to check them out on Facebook, also, where they regularly post beautiful photos of their tea fields, and interesting videos of their oolong and green teas being processed.
This #12 Bai Hao Green Tea is a new experimental product for The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. While they do also make a green tea called Jade Green, which can be purchased here, the Bai Hao product uses only the first young leaf and young bud pluck. The Jade Green uses the two leaf and bud pluck. I reviewed the Jade Green Tea a few years ago. A photo of the canister that the Jade Green Tea comes in is below. With the difference in plucking standard, I expect this Bai Hao to have a more delicate character than the Jade Green. Both products are made using leaves harvested from TTES#12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar bushes, so again, it will be interesting to see how something as seemingly simple as a one leaf pluck difference contributes to variances in character.
As for a little refresher on The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, it is a small farm consisting of only about five acres (2 hectares) of land, only half of which is under tea cultivation. The farm sits at an altitude about 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level. The farm cultivates the TTES#17 (Qing Xin) and TTES#12 (Jin Xuan) cultivars. A Google map showing the general location of The Doi Inthanon Partnership farm is below.
The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, with young silver-gold buds. The color indicates that the leaves were permitted a very slight oxidation, and given a heavy roast during production. The pluck appears to be one tender leaf and a bud still attached to the shoot. There are few broken or detached fragments, and no bare stems. The leaves are hand-rolled, as indicated by the “loose” appearance, and variation in the shape of the finished leaves. The aroma is very attractive, with a dominant scent of chocolate that reminds me of chocolate covered strawberries, and a touch of dry cut grass.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 240 ml (about 8 ounces) bizen-ware kyusu teapot. The leaves were infused in 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds on the first infusion, with 15 seconds added to each subsequent infusion.
The liquid has a pale yellow-gold color, which deepens significantly between infusions two through four. The aroma has scents of lotus flower, wet stones, cooked celery and cooked collard greens. The body is medium, with a creamy, smooth texture. The texture evolves into a more broth-like character with subsequent infusions. There is a mild astringency. The taste has notes that perfectly reflect the aroma, consisting of lotus flower, wet stones, cooked celery and collard greens, and a touch of fresh grass. The aftertaste carries the mineral and grassy notes, and evolves into a lingering floral essence in the mouth.
The infused leaves have a mostly uniform forest green color, with a slight oxidation showing through on many of the leaves. The pluck consists mostly of one tender leaf and bud, but there are few with a second leaf attached. Almost all of the leaves are fully intact, unbroken, and attached to the shoot along with the bud. There are very few detached, broken leaves in the mix, indicating a high level of care being taken while handling the leaves during the harvesting and processing stages. There are no bare stems. The tender young leaves are rather long and narrow for the TTES#12 cultivar, although the age may explain the lack of broad width. The leaves are quite thin and delicate, again an indication of the young age. The aroma carries the scents of cooked celery and vegetables, wet stones, and lotus flowers.
Below is another photo I took of some individual plucks.
As I have come to expect from the teas produced by The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, the #12 Bai Hao Green Tea gave me much to appreciate in every stage of the analysis. The incredible aroma of the dry leaves was the first impression, and a very positive first impression it was. The evolution of the aroma, texture, and taste of the tea liquid from infusion to infusion offered generally the same notes with varying levels of strength. Some infusions highlighting the lotus flower notes, others highlighting the mineral notes, and others offering more of the cooked vegetables and greens. The texture evolving from a smooth, creamy texture at first to a more broth-like, savory character from the second infusion on. And, my favorite part of this review, was observing the infused leaves. These leaves truly reflected the hard work and high level of care shown to the leaves at every stage from the bush to the final product. Quality is definitely the focus of The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership.
Thanks again to The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for sending this sample of #12 Bai Hao Green Tea! Cheers!