Here is a relatively new style of oolong tea that has been gaining some attention in the health and nutrition fields recently. This is the Gabaron Oolong Tea from Daokrajai Lanna Fine Teas, sourced from a tea estate in the area outside of Chiang Rai City in northern Thailand.
What is different about Gabaron (or GABA) teas? During processing, the tea leaves are flushed with nitrogen gas, causing the level of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutryic Acid) in the leaves to increase, unlike tea leaves processed in strictly oxygen environments. GABA is marketed as a promoter of relaxation due it’s neurological effects in the brain. However, in normal to even reasonably above normal amounts that can be ingested through GABA tea consumption, this tea will most likely not have any relaxation inducing effects beyond that of other teas. I prepared this sample fairly late in the evening, and although I had no trouble falling asleep, I cannot say that I felt any additional relaxation beyond what a Sunday evening usually brings.
The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet, fruity, woody, and slightly spicy scent is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a light to dark brown color. The leaves are shaped into semi-balls. The leaves appear to be large fragments and whole leaves with stems attached. There are no bare stems in the mix. Although the leaves appear to be higher on the oxidation scale, I would be interested to know the oxidation percentage, and if the exposure to nitrogen causes any color change in the dry product. The aroma is sweet, with scents of brown sugar, molasses, apples, citrus, light wood and spice.
Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with light golden-yellow color and a light orange tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweet, with fruity scents of apples and citrus, and spicy, most similar to cloves. The body is light-medium, with a lively, spicy, almost sharp texture. The taste is somewhat brisk, with strong notes of citrus (lemon or grapefruit), apples, and spice (cloves), with lighter notes of flowers and minerals. The aftertaste is light, sweet and floral. There is very little flowery or otherwise of an essence that is left on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a darker shade of golden-yellow color and more of an orange tint. The aroma remains fruity and spicy. The body is medium, and the taste is not quite as sharp as the first infusion. The taste has balanced some, with the notes of citrus, apple, and spice blending more evenly with the flowers and mineral taste. The aftertaste is still sweet and floral, but the floral hints have gained some ground on the sweetness. I preferred this second infusion to the first.
The third infusion produced a liquor that was very slightly lighter than the second infusion, but remains golden-yellow with an orange tint. The aroma continues to be fruity and spicy, but lighter in strength. The body remains medium. The taste has lightened and balanced more, with the floral and mineral notes having gained some ground on the fruity and spicy notes. The third infusion had plenty of aroma and taste to offer.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark reddish-brown color. Many of the leaves are whole, and are long and narrow. My guess is that the cultivar used for this product is Chin Shin. The broken leaves are large fragments, and many leaves are attached to stems that show a three leaf and small bud pluck. The leaves have a wet, thin, leathery feel to them. The aroma is also fruity (apples), spicy (cloves), with a unique mineral (wet stone) aroma that I do not remember smelling in other infused leaves. I believe these leaves could produce another infusion or two of acceptable aroma and flavor.
This Gabaron Oolong is definitely a unique product. The dominant fruity and spicy flavors are unlike any other oolong that I have had. The aroma of the infused leaves was very potent, and had a mineral scent that was unusual, yet pleasing. The appearance of the infused leaves was impressive. Despite the appearance and aroma of the dry leaves, which more resembled a higher oxidized or roasted oolong, the aroma and taste of the liquor was nothing like the higher oxidized or roasted oolongs. If you have not tried a GABA product yet, and like fruity and/or spicy teas, you may find a new favorite in the Gabaron Oolong from Daokrajai Lanna Fine Teas.
Cheers to another unique, aromatic, and tasteful product from Daokrajai Lanna Fine Teas!