Club Gathering Log #06 | Online Event: 25,27.8.2023
This summary covers the 6th edition of the Blind Tasting Club 2023 in Summer 2023. Curating the Summer 2023 sampler posed significant challenges, yet the result was arguably our most advanced and educational club meeting so far! The order of the teas matched the theme, with each of the five teas highlighting different aspects of summer. Let's unveil them!
Hailing from the hot, low-altitude region of Mingjiang in South Nantou county — an area typically known for commercial growing with pesticides — this organic dark white tea is cultivated using the Four Springs (Sijichun 四季春) variety. The result is an authentic representation of the tea maker's expertise and dedication to organic farming. Instead of relying on machinery, the leaves were naturally sun-dried, drawing their distinct character from the terroir, cultivar, and precise craftsmanship. The presence of marks from silk worms and bugs on the tea leaves, while typical for the warm climate, stands as a testament to its organic cultivation
Tasting Notes: Cookie dough, watermelon, grapefruit, cinnamon pastry, plum
Won the Favorite Tea award 🏅 and tied for the Most Unique Tea 🏅 bringing both medals home
Crafted by a young tea maker, whose father was a pioneer of specialty tea in Assam, this selection is from the earliest spring harvest, showcasing the softest buds and youngest leaves. While it exhibited characteristics of white tea last year, this year's batch leans more towards green tea, a shift attributed to weather-induced adjustments in processing. Grown organically, it underwent a careful drying process — a combination of sun and indoor drying, finished quickly in a dryer. This makes the tea a unique experience for both green and white tea enthusiasts, with a special profile of umami and vegetal notes, and a satisfying silky smooth texture. It's an exclusive batch to ho yum tea, of which we hold the entire stock, thanks to a booking made a year in advance during our visit to India.
Tasting Notes: Olive leaves, tomato sauce, green chili, corn, artichoke
While Darjeeling tea is typically labeled as Black tea, this "Qing Darjeeling" or “Green Darjeeling” has undergone only a brief no longer than 10-minute oxidation, giving it a unique, delicate green shade. Picked from Indian clones AV2 and PB312, this tea stands out due to its early pick, slow rolling and minimal oxidation. This particular batch, named "Euphoria" from the small tea estate Avongrove, is a special edition with only 12kg in total. It's a challenging tea to brew, sensitive to environmental changes and will vary in profile depending on conditions and age. One of the better Darjeeling teas we have tried in the past decade, definitely the most unique one.
Tasting Notes: Peach, grass, lemon jelly, papaya, turmeric, mango
Winner of the Most Unique Tea award 🏅 (tied with #1)
#4: Cin Cai Tang Shai Hong 2023 Red Tea - Yunnan, China
Produced in the elevated terrains of Yongde at 1,900m altitude, this Shai Hong is a fully sun-dried red tea that echoes ancient Chinese tea-making techniques. Unlike dian hong, its machine-made counterpart that emphasizes aroma and texture, in Shai Hong "you drink the charm/magic", as the tea maker puts it. A product of 70-80-year-old lao shu tea trees, this spring harvest gives a tea full of cha qi with a rich brown liquor. Because full sun drying requires more time and space, it's typically more common to produce Shai Hong in summer or autumn. This tea stands as a delightful, unpredictable choice, ideal for those seeking a wide spectrum of flavors. It underlines the challenging art of making Shai Hong, which is seeing a revival in China.
Tasting Notes: Black pepper, vegetal, molasses, chocolate, plum, spicy rum, wood barrel
#5: Yihong Shouning Baked Red Tea - Fujian, China
Before the gathering, Tea No. 5 was the leading favorite among our clubbers, only for No.1 to slightly edge it out in votes. This tea is truly remarkable. While Chinese red tea is typically light in body, aroma, and aftertaste, this tea from our summer club stands out with a rich body and character. Credit goes to the innovative tea-making of Master Lu Mingji, a distinguished tea maker and teacher from Shouning, Fujian province. His unique process, encompassing light oxidation, rolling, and charcoal baking, has not only garnered him fame but also led to his tea being chosen as a teaching specimen in the China Tea Museum. Interestingly, we discovered this tea in none other than Israel 🇮🇱 when we were invited to the International Tea Day celebration in CCC TLV, where Pink met Master Jia who introduced us to Master Lu's creation. It's worth noting that this is the only tea in our summer club that was actually picked during summer.
Tasting Notes: Ripe cucumber, fresh cut vegetables, herbs, mineral, peach, orchid
We hope this summer's teas left an impression and expanded your palate. We'll be back with our next collection of Blind Tasting Club in early Winter 2023. Stay refreshed and immersed in the world of tea!