Mi Xiang Honey GABA Oolong (蜜香佳葉龍烏龍茶) is a fully organic tea grown in Nantou County of Taiwan that has quite a unique ‘Mi Xiang’ (honey aroma) flavour. It has developed this characteristic flavour due to slightly unusual weather patterns of autumn 2021. As such this tea is a complete one-off, think of it as a particularly good vintage of fine wine. It is a unique experience and the taste is somewhere between our GABA Oolong and our Gui Fei Oolong. It was picked by hand in November 2021 from trees of a Jin Xuan (TRES #12) cultivar and processed in the style of a GABA Oolong in an oxygen deprived environment.
Last time we were able to offer this style of tea, it was a spring 2017 harvest and it sold out pretty quick. This time around we bought a large portion of this harvest to make sure it lasts us a bit longer!
This Honey 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.
The Mi Xiang flavour found here is similar to other ‘Beauty’ teas. These are unique teas favoured for their honey-like profile that occurs due to presence of little green leaf hoppers (Jacobiasca formosana) that nibble the tea leaves during growth. The tea plants react to this attack by producing more polyphenols, which during processing give the unique ‘beauty tea’ flavour. These tea jassids are an essential aspect in production of some Taiwanese teas. However as the presence and effect of the tea jassid in each harvest cannot be replicated by humans, each harvest is different from one to the next. While the Tea Master will always try to bring out the desired unique flavours in different batches, this batch is very much a one-off and we will unlikely to get this tea again soon.
Our Mi Xiang Honey GABA Oolong has neat, tightly rolled leaves that are about 70% oxidised and very lightly roasted. The bright amber liquor has a fruity raisin aroma, while the wet leaves give off a more mineral scent. The taste is particularly smooth, with a predominately fruity profile as expected from a GABA oolong. The Mi Xiang aspect adds more complexity as well as perceived sweetness to the flavour. There are notes of sugared tart plums, spicy honey and sweet raisins. The flavour gives way to a more mineral aspect on the tart, slightly toasty aftertaste. The finish is lasting with the usual GABA tartness but also slightly floral and spicy honey notes.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3 minutes according to your taste. It can be brewed more than 3 times depending on your preference. For best results, brew gongfu style.