Tasting Sessions – Amethyst Gaba Oolong (Mei Leaf)

I’m sure that it will come as no shock to any of you that I’m writing a tasting sessions post for yet another tea from Mei Leaf. I didn’t plan on this when I last ordered a bunch of samples as I had no idea what to expect from what I had ordered. I had planned to just enjoy them in my own time and not put any stress on myself to write about them. I had decided way before this that I was only going to write posts like this for teas that truly wow me and made me feel inspired to write. I just didn’t expect many of the samples I had ordered to do that but either way I’m glad they did and having that inspiration back has been absolutely wonderful.

This post, as you can see by the title, is all about my initial tasting session with Mei Leaf’s – Amethyst Gaba Oolong. I ordered this because I had previously tried the other two Gaba Oolongs they offer and I wanted to see how it compared to them and I wanted to discover which of the three would be my favourite overall.

Amethyst Gaba is produced from the leaves of Fo Shou Cultivar tea plants. My sample was harvested / produced in spring 2021. It is grown in Alishan, Chiayi, Taiwan, at an elevation of 1300m. The picking standard for this tea is up to the third or fourth leaf.

The dry leaves look just like small dark raisins, they are tightly rolled and black-grey in colour. Once the dry leaves were placed into a warm gaiwan, they had an aroma that was nutty (roasted hazelnuts), with hints of coffee, burning hay, sobacha, bananas caramelized with brown sugar, sandalwood and cardamom. 

After the first steep, the aroma of the wet leaves had notes of cardamom, roasting coffee, burning hay, burning wood, dark roast coffee, freshly laid tarmac and freshly made authentic German caramel. The caramel notes took me straight back to Epcot’s World Showcase and the Karamell-Küche shop, filled with delicious freshly made caramel treats with the smell of the fresh made Werther’s caramel popcorn wafting through the air as you get closer and closer. 

The liquor of steep one was a dark copper brown in colour which lasted until at least steep three, which is where it started to lighten to a softer copper / amber colour and continued to lighten as the steeps went on.

When it comes down to taste, this tea just keeps on giving: it has notes of roasted hazelnuts, clotted cream fudge, creamy caramel candy, sandalwood, cardamom, burning hay, roasting coffee and wet black pavement with the sun shining on it. It’s reminiscent of a light / blonde roast coffee without any of the astringency, but it didn’t stop there. As the steeps went on and some of the initial elements died down, other notes came to the forefront like antique varnished dark woods, brown sugar caramelized bananas, café au lait candy and caramel popcorn. It really is one of the most delicious oolongs I’ve ever tried and felt rather decadent for a traditional tea.

Texture wise, this tea is super smooth and has a soft mouthfeel and a very clean finish, each mouthful leaving lingering wood and nutty notes that coat the mouth. There is absolutely no bitterness or astringency present and only a touch of minerality and dryness.

The empty gong dao bei and cups had an aroma that was shockingly long lasting and was made up of notes of café au lait candy, milky coffee and freshly toasted bread that is seconds away from being burnt. The wet leaves were no longer small, tightly rolled dark raisins by the end of the session and had transformed into full, unfurled large full leaves that were black in colour and looked slightly oily.

I was less than half way through my session with this tea when I mentioned the affect that it was having on both my mind and my body and that only continues to build with the more steeps that I did. It sounds bad, but I assure you it was completely positive. It just helped me to feel super calm and relaxed and as a person who has struggled with anxiety her whole life, anything that can make me feel that relaxed is something that I am incredibly thankful for. After my first session with this tea I had one of the best naps I have ever had and I’ve been struggling with sleep recently so it was something I needed.

Having tried both this and all other Gaba Oolongs that Mei Leaf offer I have to say that is one is my favourite of the bunch and if I were only able to order one of them again it would without a shadow of a doubt be this one for a multitude of reasons. They are all fantastic and provide their own unique and well rounded experiences but this one was just the stand out one for me.

Until next time, Happy Steeping – Kimberley

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