Generally when you think of green tea you think of Japan or China first. What about Vietnam? Wasn’t on my radar until I spotted this one. This rare wild grown tea is a true splendor to behold. The dry leaves have an incredibly unique aroma. This scent is what I think of when I think umami. It’s almost like they cooked something on the pan before they roasted it. Somewhat vegetal but nothing like the usual vegetal flavors found in tea. SMOKY! Smoky vegetal! But not like Lapsang Souchong. The wet leaves smell like passion fruit. NO I am NOT joking. They don’t taste like it though… Don’t taste the leaves. And the liquid? Awesome. Grassy sweet with just a very slight amount of bitterness. I need more.
More in my cup. The leaves slowly un-twisting in my cup are lovely. The Agony of the leaves. It is interesting how pan firing a tea can give it such a different flavor profile.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Rakkasan
This is a rare wild-grown, green tea produced by Black H’mong families in Hà Giang Province, Vietnam at over 5,200 feet. It is different from other green teas in that it is fired and dried by hand in a wood-fired cast iron pan rather than a drum oven. It has a smoky aroma and earthy and woody notes reminiscent of the surrounding pine forest where it grows. Like other wild green teas, it is naturally sweet with little bitterness.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
If I told you this tea had it’s oxidization stopped at around 45% would you believe me? Yea, I wouldn’t believe me either. When I first opened the can and looked at the elegantly shaped ‘balls’ of tea I thought they made mistake. Then again I generally drink oolongs close to the green spectrum so who am I to talk.
As much as I stick my nose into this can to smell the dry leaves I just don’t find much. There is a very slight musty… earthy smell. The true aromas come out in the wet leaf. The first time I smelled it I detested it as the smell of cigarette smoke was somewhat lingering but this time it is very very light. Wet forest is now what I predominately detect. As far as flavor goes, this one is very unique.
Granted, there are lots of unique teas in this world. This one is unique in that it has the essences of darjeelings in a subtle way. (Darjeelings should almost be given their own classification instead of black). Anyway, flavors for this one primarily stay in the earthy range. Some grape hints here and there but no floral notes detected as is said on their site. Perhaps its a floral that I don’t understand. Summer meadow floral perhaps?
If you are looking to support a tea company for certain reasons like sustainability, environmental responsibility, good customer service, etc then you definitely need to look into Rakkasan, not only are they a great company but you will be supporting tea grown in post-conflict countries.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Rakkasan Tea Company
Grown in Ilam, Nepal at an elevation of 5,000 feet, this oolong tea combines the best of both green and black tea. The mature leaves are hand-plucked and then withered in sunlight, spread on bamboo mesh trays. They are then heated to stop oxidation at 45 percent. Afterward, the leaves are rolled and separated into a unique ball shape. The finished product results in high floral notes with a hint of grapes. Himalayan Black Dragon is grown organically, but it is not yet certified.
About Our Nepalese Tea
Grown in the Himalayan foothills, Nepalese tea is extraordinary. However, years of industry underdevelopment, coupled with a decade-long civil war, served to stunt Nepal’s economy. Development of tea farming in the country suffered as a result. Since the signing of a peace accord in 2006, Nepal’s tea growers have sought to share their product with more and more drinkers around the world.
Our Nepalese tea comes from small farms in Ilam and Panchthar, a region just 45 miles west of Darjeeling, at an altitude of between 5,000 and 6,000 feet. The region is semi-tropical and very sunny, but has abundant rainfall.