This beautiful brown and green color tea with long, twisted and fleshy leaves, which might remind you of an Oolong, a Chinese traditional tea, is surprisingly called Thailand green Oolong tea.
They grow tea in Thailand, you might ask me? Yes they do, the Thai tea is not widely known but it is increasingly expanding.
Historically, Thailand is not really referred to as a tea-growing country or more accurately the tea production was not organized as it is now. The tea production was mainly meant for the local market.
However, as they do in South Vietnam, Chinese and Taiwanese companies have been expanding tea plantations in Thailand. There are many reasons for that, one of which being the lack of space.
Roughly 30 years ago, they had a go and started to plant tea and organize the market so as to be able to export and sell tea.
That green Oolong tea was dreamt of and planted for the first time, thirty years ago, by a Chinese planter native of the province of Yunnan. For many years, he was willingly patient, steadfast and optimistic. For he had to master and organize those hills located in the north of Thailand, which, strictly speaking, were not really tea fields. Now, nice tea plantations are part of Thailand’s northern landscape, and more specifically, of Chiang Rai, a province by the Burmese border.
The plantations are small, they are between 200 and 500 acres, so their production is in proportion to their sizes.
In addition to the ideal weather conditions and lands, the plantations are located at altitudes of around 1000 to 1200 meters.
The cultivar of this green Oolong tea comes from Taiwan and specifically, from the mountain Alsihan, very famous for the quality of its oolongs.
The cultivar got used to the soil and climate but it took steadfast care, first to grow the tea tree then to invent, adjust and master the manufacturing by a particular process to get the flavour and taste hoped for.
It does take a specific know-how, a mix of Chinese, Taiwanese and even Japanese manufacturing processes to make this tea, which has its own taste, flavour and aspect.
Like in Japan, the leaves will be covered around one hour in the shade (like the Gyokuro) after the picking. Like in Taiwan, they have them ferment for a short time. Like in China, they pan fire the tea leaves.
Before starting the tasting, watch the dry aspect of the leaves, the different colors and their shape, they are twisted like eyebrows. Spot the slightly greener leaves.
Then smell the dry leaves. Once you have inhaled them twice and once having breathed out on the leaves so as to warm them up, you will be noticing that a hazelnut fragrance bursts open and endures.
The infusion does confirm the nice size of the tea leaves that have gently unrolled.
The liquor really is tasty, long, expressive in mouth and pleasantly fresh. The aromatic characteristics both remind us of hazelnut and herbs. Besides the smooth taste, a light roasted expression does come through at the end. All those notes are very well balanced, with very little bitterness.
If you choose to drink that tea Japanese way, that means, with an infusion time of less and more than 1 minute, you will notice that the liquor is very nice; no bitterness no astringency at all; however the body is a little light and short.
This tea can be easily drunk all day long. Its liquor is soft, do not add milk to the tea, of course;
If you wish to keep it in the right conditions, put the tea in a hermetic box and then in the fridge at about 5°C.