Heritage Baked GABA Oolong (凍頂火候佳葉龍) is a GABA rich tea that comes from Nantou County of Taiwan. This particular tea was carefully baked in a traditional manner to produce a heritage style type of tea that is not often found nowadays. The baking process is slow and time consuming, and the type of roasting employed is normally reserved for much more high end Competition Grade Dong Ding Oolong teas. The medium level of baking results in a complex flavour profile where the roasted notes do not overpower but rather compliment the original tea flavours. It is from a fully organic production located in Mingjian Township, Nantou County, Taiwan. The cultivar used to make this Heritage Baked GABA Oolong is the Si Ji Chun ‘Four Seasons’ (四季春) cultivar that is used for our popular Four Seasons Oolong. This lot is from a November 2022 harvest and the last baking of it was in March 2023.
This Heritage Baked GABA Oolong follows typical GABA processing: after picking the leaves are placed into a special deoxidation vacuum machine. During this processing oxygen is removed from the machine by replacing it with nitrogen and the tea is left to slowly oxidise in this unusual environment. The oxidation process happens very slowly due to lack of oxygen in the machine, increasing the GABA content and developing the characteristic GABA flavours. This also positively affects the tannins, greatly reducing them to produce a smoother, less astringent taste.To demystify the acronym in the name, GABA stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. This molecule, which is mostly found in the human brain, purportedly can reduce stress and anxiety. GABA Oolong tea is also known as Gabaron and Jia Ye Long (佳葉龍).
This Heritage Baked GABA Oolong is finished by our Tea Master in a traditional style that has undergone extensive baking. It is a recreation of a type of tea she used to enjoy growing up that her late father used to make. These complex, heavier roasted oolongs that were popular in Taiwan 30+ years ago have been largely replaced by the lightly oxidised floral versions popular today. While both types have a distinct and attractive character, there is a particular appeal in the complex and skilfully crafted heritage-style teas such as this one. It is truly a labour of love and a fitting tribute to a more traditional style of Taiwanese tea.
It is sourced directly from the Tea Master in Taiwan that carries out the roasting. The tightly rolled leaves produce a darker liquor with good clarity and a light roasted aroma with a hint of rye. The roasted taste has the typical fruity GABA notes, but less of the tangy flavour normally found in un-roasted GABA oolong teas. The baking of this tea imparts a wonderful complexity, with a finely tuned balance of flavours. The notes are of fruity rye bread, raisins and sweet malt loaf. There is a hint of rose on the top note that is most unusual. The aftertaste brings some slightly tangy flavours commonly found in GABA oolong teas. While the finish is lasting, it is quite clean.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 3 minutes according to your taste and can be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each next brew if desired.