Today I am continuing my look at GABA Oolongs, this one is from Grand Tea, I won this tea in their photo contest they held several months back and got a big ol' box of the stuff, which has been steadily getting smaller. This specific GABA comes from Huang Shan, meaning (unless I am mistaken, always a possibility) it is from China. The aroma of the dark curled leaves is both sweet and woody, notes of apricot and raisins blend with apple wood and a gentle toasted grain note at the finish and bamboo wood at the finish. This is probably the woodiest of the three GABAs I am looking that, and as a person who adores woody notes, this pleases me.
Into my gaiwan the leaves go, I let GABA steep longer than I usually do for Oolongs, similar to the 45-60 seconds I use for Gui Fei and on the rare occasion I Gongfu up Hong Shui. The aroma has that distinct sour woody and sweet fruity notes that scream GABA to me, it smells lovely and a combination of soothing and invigorating. The liquid is gentle and fruity, notes of raisins and apricots, a slightly sour woody note at the finish but mostly it is sweet dried fruit.
First steep is richly colored and richly sweet, a strong thick mouthfeel that vaguely reminds me of fruit juice but more tea like. It starts with a slightly sour woody note and then pretty immediately moves to dried apricots and dried apples. The finish is all raisins, like a cooked raisin compote but without any spices, it tastes almost like raisin candy and is yum. The aftertaste is delicate but has a lingering plum note.
By the second steep, the leaves have unfurled more and you get to see their mottling of green, brown, red, and a touch of golden. The aroma of the liquid is raisins and peaches with grainy undertones and fruit wood notes. It is not as sweet, but it has a heaviness to it that is quite mellow. This steep is not as sweet, there are raisin and plum notes, but it has a musky woody quality that reminds me of deep forests, but high in the canopy and not on the shou puerh floor. It has a distinct sourness at the finish like slightly under-ripe plums.
The third, but not final, steep of this tea is a bit sweeter, notes of honey and peaches blend with raisins and wood in the aroma. The taste is a perfect balance of the first and second steep, blending strong fruity notes and strong woody notes for a rich and lingering taste. The sourness is still there, I have seen in various places that the sour note can be off-putting to some, I can certainly see that being an acquired taste, but I like it since it reminds me of fruit wood and adds a level of complexity. I was able to get several more steeps out of it before it called quits.
I received this tea as a prize in a photo contest.