What is GABA tea? – ft Mei Leaf Amber GABA Oolong

Hey Everyone! Glad to be back as always. I hope that you’re all enjoying the new direction my content has been going in since the re-brand late august, I’ve definitely been enjoying writing much more and felt so much more creative, as well as feeling so much prouder of the content I am posting on my platform than I was beforehand. Today’s post is all about GABA tea, inspired by my first session with a GABA tea around a week ago. That tea was Mei Leaf’s Amber Gaba Oolong and after my session I was so intrigued by what GABA tea is and had to learn more about it and share the things I had learnt with all of you. Hopefully this will inspire you to give GABA tea a try if you have never tried it before.

For those of you unfamiliar with what GABA is: GABA stands for Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid, an amino acid that is one of the main neurotransmitters in your central nervous system. Neurotransmitters help nerve signals to travel between cells (neurons). The GABA chemical functions to prevent over-excitement of the nervous system by controlling the movement of signals between neurons.

GABA also occurs naturally in the tea plant, and in the 1980’s Japanese researcher Dr. Tsushida Tojiro found that the natural levels could be increased in finished teas by processing them in anaerobic conditions. Since then, production of GABA teas has been embraced in both Japan and Taiwan. These teas claim that the extra GABA content can have an extra calming effect, and that drinking these teas can aid with stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and neurological disorders. 

Though the scientific process of making this type of tea certainly differentiates it from traditionally crafted teas, I would still take these bold health claims with a grain of salt and instead of drinking this tea purely for its supposed benefits, take that them as a bonus if they help you, but drink this tea as you would any other for the taste.

The process first invented in Japan involves placing the Maocha in a sealed drum that is then pumped full of nitrogen to displace the oxygenated air. In this anaerobic environment, glutamate in the leaves is converted to GABA before the leaves are removed to continue the steps of traditional processing. Though mainly utilised in the Japanese tea industry, GABA is a trend in many industries outside of the tea world as well but regulations are strict, and teas labelled as GABA must contain at least 150mg in every 100g of tea.

These super high standards, together with healthy domestic market, means many of the GABA green teas never actually end up leaving the country, which is sad because I would love to have the chance to try them. More common on the international market are GABA Oolong teas produced in Taiwan, like Mei Leaf’s Amber Gaba Oolong which is one of three they stock, which undergo various rates of oxidation along with this GABA-enriching process. The process of creating extra GABA also affects the flavor of the finished tea, adding a distinct note that is often described as sour and fruity, like Mei Leaf’s Amber Gaba which has a beautiful fruity note to it like dried apricots and plums .

The dry leaf of their Amber Gaba look like tightly rolled, burnt raisin brown balls, ranging in size but most are quite big. The aroma of the dry leaf gave me notes of roasted chestnuts, dried plums, dried prunes and cocoa. The aroma of the wet leaf however was a little more complex and gave me notes of dried apricots, wet wood, roasted chestnuts, dried plums, golden raisins, scotch sweetness (like the way an old whisky barrel smells) and subtle cocoa.

Each cup I poured was a golden amber colour with hints of burnt orange, hence the name, and in terms of its flavour profile this tea had so much to offer! I was able to pick so many different things on my palette throughout my total of 8 steeps including: dried apricots, dried plums, red and black wine gums, roasted chestnuts, fruity honey and a taste like the way that the air smells in the summer after it has rained. Warm and gentle muscatel, slight maltiness and a roastiness which makes it tastes like dark nuts and burnt caramel and subtle notes of cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. Reminds me a bit of the way that coronation curry tastes and smells, and it definitely have a savoury and spiciness to it.

Mouth feel wise, this had a medium weight and it was super thirst quenching. Smooth and not at all drying with a nice soft, smooth and long lasting finish to it. In the empty cup while I was still able to pick out a lot of the notes I had tasted in it like ripe fruits, apricot and plums, a dark browned butter note was present as well. By the end of the session the wet leaves has transformed from the tightly rolled balls they once were into auburn and dark moss green large leaves, some of which were definitely the biggest full leaves I have ever seen from an Oolong.

I really enjoyed the way I felt after my session was over. I was relaxed, free of tension and calm and even ended up taking a nap. I’ve done a few sessions with this tea now and I end up napped after each and every one of them. I haven’t noticed any help with my chronic illness issues from a GABA but with everything I have gotten with this tea, anything extra would be a bonus. I would love to try out this tea in more sessions along with the other GABA teas from Mei Leaf so I can see if any of them help me with my migraine attacks at all, because I’ll buy a copious amount of them if I find they can aid me even in the slightest with my worst migraine attacks.

I definitely think that in terms of GABA tea, some people will love how it makes them feel and other won’t, but it’s worth trying at least once just to see if you do like both the taste and the way it makes you feel. Also if you do have a chronic illness and you’re anything like me you’ll try anything that could possible help just to get relief from the pain and if you can do that with tea rather than taking more medicine why not give it a go, what’s the worst that could happen? In terms of my experience with GABA tea so far I think I still have a lot left to discover and test out but I think I started off on this journey with it in the best way possible with another phenomenal tea from the team over at Mei Leaf, who are yet to let me down with a single tea I have tried from them. They have also helped me to learn a lot about tea since I first started my journey and are still continuing to do so even though I am now at a point where you would think their isn’t much left for me to learn. I think that just proves how much of an ever learning subject tea really is.

I hope this post has helped you learn something new about tea and as always if you have any questions at all either stick them in the comments or send them to me on Instagram @kimberleyskyusu and I’ll do my best to answer them all as soon as I can.

Until next time, Happy Steeping – Kimberley

2 responses to “What is GABA tea? – ft Mei Leaf Amber GABA Oolong”

  1. Thanks for giving us the run-down. I have been on GABA medication many years ago. I didn’t enjoy it, but I suspect that I would enjoy the mild, natural kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never heard of Gaba before trying this tea I quite enjoyed how it made me feel and have been very thankful for the naps it had induced haha. I would definitely give it a go if you think you would like this tea taste wise as well

      Liked by 1 person

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