Today I am looking at what I consider to be a truly unique tea, Totem Tea's Cui Yu Jade GABA. I have had several GABA Oolongs, all of them fairly heavily oxidized (technically they are exposed to a nitrogen rich environment rather than oxygen) and dark, making them more similar to hong shui. This one is green with a gentle roast, giving it that familiar light roast feel but with a slight distinct difference that makes this tea stand out. The aroma of the curled leaves has notes of sesame seeds, buttery cashews, freshly baked bread (specifically sweet farm bread) delicate flowers (the website description is not wrong with the dandelion flowers) and a tiny bit of toasted buckwheat at the finish. It is not an overwhelmingly floral oolong, focusing on the gentle nuttiness and sweetness that usually accompanies a lightly roasted oolong.
Gaiwan time brings out notes of toasted sesame and cashew with a buttery thick quality. Alongside these nutty notes is a distinct dandelion flower jelly, it is sweet with a pollen note that lingers in the nose. There is also a gentle herbaceous and green spinach note that is very light but still present. The liquid is golden in color and aroma, something about the dandelion jelly, pollen, and sesame nuttiness reminds me of sunlight and golden things, so to me it smells gold.
The first steep is unique and light, I think I fell in love after the first sip. Light mouthfeel with a distinct mineral quality blends wonderfully with dandelion flowers and sesame seeds. Specifically the sweet taste of honey sesame seed candies. Towards the end of the sip I pick up notes of toasted rye and buckwheat, with a gentle sweet finish of raw honey and cashews that lingers.
Steep two takes the previously delicate mouthfeel and turns it into thickness, creamy and smooth but very thick. This steep brings out the more green quality of the tea, along with toasted sesame there are notes of buttery cooked cabbage, and a bit of lettuce. There are also gentle notes of dandelion flowers and sesame seeds, both of which linger well into the afterataste.
This is the last steep I write about, but it is not the last steep I enjoyed of this tea, it kept going for quite a while, it was great to keep drinking this tea well into the wee hours. This steep is a perfect balance of nutty sweetness and gentle buttery vegetation notes, neither one overpowers the other. Like before the gentle notes of dandelion flowers and sesame seeds linger well into the aftertaste. Comparing this to other GABAs I have had, I think I like this greener one better, it lacks any of the woody sourness that the darker GABAs can have, plus that dandelion note is fascinating!
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.