Monday, June 13, 2011

Organic Summer 2010 Shibi Hong Cha

I teased a review of this organic Taiwanese hongcha (紅茶) at the end of my May 11th post. I would have posted this review sooner but I only had a small sample and I used too large of a teapot. The resulting tea was way too weak to fairly review and so I had to wait until my friend Nicole of Green Leaf Tea Company got her new shipment from Taiwan. Now that that has happened I'm ready to sip and share!

The dry leaf is slightly twisted and dark with little flecks of gold and fat twigs. The aroma is nutty and sweet with a slight note of potato chips.

This time, determined not to be "under-leafed," I brewed it in a small gaiwan about 60% full of dry leaves. This method yielded 6 tasty infusions.

Here's the third:

But even when brewed in this heavier manner, the tea was still pretty light when compared to most hongcha I have sampled. Despite its lighter body the tea did not lack for complexity. It sometimes yielded a pleasant, creamy caramel-like flavor, and sometimes it had a wonderful brisk, Ceylon-like, raisin flavor.

This tea is very smooth and yummy but it did occasionally display some distant savory, broth and marine notes. The only other time I can remember detecting this particular flavor was in the stunning Summer 2009 organic A'a black tea from Hawaii's Big Island Tea Company. Interestingly, I just read Alex Z's Chicken Soup Aroma in Black Tea post from earlier today and I think that was maybe what I was tasting. Possibly it's perceived differently to me because I've been vegan for almost 12 years?

For me this tea was at its best when it had cooled to room temperature. For some reason the cooler liquor tasted thicker and really appealed to me with its clean, fruity, and refreshing taste.

I'd recommend this Summer 2010 Shibi hongcha to anybody looking for a smooth, light and spirited black tea and/or to anybody who (like myself) wishes to support small-scale organic tea production in Taiwan.

Click here if you'd like to see the vendor's own review of this tea.

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