I’m getting to this one later than anticipated. What’s new, right? A couple months ago, I developed a plan to do a shootout of Toba Wangi teas, but I never got around to it and that bothered me. As tea producers go, Toba Wangi absolutely fascinates me. A newer producer, they have established two estates in West Java, one producing cultivars of Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and one producing cultivars of Camellia sinensis var. assamica. While Indonesia is mostly known in the West for producing commercial black teas, Toba Wangi produces a range of high quality teas and is becoming increasingly known for their green teas and oolongs. Since I still had samples of a number of their teas, I decided to revive my Toba Wangi shootout idea last week. I then decided to limit myself to two teas and ended up selecting this tea (produced from the Gambung 7 cultivar of Camellia sinensis var. assamica) and a green tea made from a cultivar of Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, for which I will hopefully be posting a review very shortly. What was the verdict? Both were winners.

I prepared this tea in my familiar, personalized version of gongfu style. I often do not rinse green teas, but opted to here. After a true flash rinse (literally water on, water off), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered unique aromas of lemon, grass, and something of a restrained sheng-like funk. The rinsed leaves offered stronger lemon and grass aromas coupled with emerging scents of nuts, malt, and hay. A hint of grapefruit was just barely detectable, and of course, the previously mentioned sheng-like funkiness was still present. The first infusion brought out a hint of wood on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor expressed mild notes of lemon, nuts, malt, hay, grass, and a slight funk. Subsequent infusions brought out the grapefruit on the palate as well as notes of straw, spinach, seaweed, herbs, and pine. Clearly defined notes of chestnut, walnut, and beechnut appeared, and I also caught some interesting impressions of tart cherry, sour plum, lettuce, minerals, sorghum, and artichoke lurking around the fringes. The later infusions saw a pronounced increase in mineral presence. Rather faint impressions of nuts, malt, grass, lettuce, seaweed, and spinach were there too, as was something of a subtle funk.

I tend to like green teas produced from assamica cultivars and I also tend to like quite a few non-Chinese green teas. With the previously expressed tendencies in mind, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this tea as much as I did. It displayed considerable depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth, yet it was never overwhelming or unapproachable. I find teas like this to be as fun and engaging as they are challenging and would have no issue recommending this tea to fans of traditional Yunnan green teas or green tea drinkers looking for something a little exotic.

Flavors: Artichoke, Cherry, Chestnut, Grapefruit, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Pine, Plums, Seaweed, Spinach, Straw, Walnut

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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