GABA Qi Yun Oolong (佳葉龍祁韻烏龍茶) is a top grade early spring oolong tea from Taiwan. It is made from the brand new Qi Yun (祁韻) TRES #23 cultivar that was first officially unveiled only in 2018. GABA Qi Yun Oolong tea is grown to organic standards around Mingjian Township of Nantou County by Mr Yu and was hand picked from the fine early spring leaves in February 2021. In the same year, Mr Yu also made an early summer Qi Yun Hong Cha black tea version from the same plants.
The Qi Yun cultivar was introduced by the Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station in 2018. The cultivar originated from seeds of Qimen (Keemun) plants brought to Taiwan from Anhui Province by professor Ryo Yamamoto in 1938 and planted at the Yuchi research station. The most outstanding plants from the section were selected in 2001 and comparison testing was carried out against the Qing Xin cultivar in 2015-2017. The cultivar was officially named and unveiled as Qi Yun TRES #23 in September 2018 and positioned specifically for black tea making. Essentially this is a small leaf descendant cultivar of Qimen plants and has similar characteristics. The plants have strong growth potential, as well as strong disease and drought resistance. Teas made from these plants tend to have pronounced aroma and sweetness. Mr Yu has experimented making different types of tea from the plants, including green, lightly oxidised oolong, GABA and black. He found that at this point the plants are most suited to GABA oolong and black tea production.
This GABA Qi Yun 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.
This tea comes in tightly rolled semi-oxidised leaves. The liquor produced has an attractive bright and clear appearance with an amber colour and a lovely fruity aroma. The flavours are typical of GABA teas, with notes of dry fruits such as sultanas and prunes. The smooth liquor is quite sweet, the spiced notes of gingerbread as well as tangier notes of dried fruits and floral honey. The Qimen ancestry of the cultivar works quite well in this GABA Oolong to create an additional level of complex sweetness and fruitiness.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each brew if desired. For best results we definitely recommend brewing gong fu style.