Vietnamese Wild Black Hand-Crafted ~ Tao of Tea
Dry: Deeply fragrant aroma of rose, cherry/amaretto and hints of osmanthus. Overall floral and fruity and very complex.
Wet: Sweet and deep woodsy aroma with nuances of baked-caramelized nuts, and an aspect of horse leather or naturally fragrant oils.
Leaf: Darkly oxidized, twisted and textured leaves, of various size and length with some leaves being nearly 3” long and the density of the leaves being variable.
Cup: A pale brassy-peach hued liquor with amber depth. There is an immediate aroma from the cup that is reminiscent of oolongs served in more traditional Chinese restaurants, where the metallic scent of the pot contributes to the deeper tea aroma. The initial flavor is deeply woody and wild, elusive hints of flavors found around the savored pit of a cherry mingle with a slightly spicy caraway-leathery note, slipping into sweetness and hinting with a glint of metallic on the aftertaste. Extremely smooth and the almost ‘thin’ delicate flavors are confusing as the mouth indicates a denser body and viscosity. Overall the cup is dynamic and is challenging to define, being both simple and elusive, but clear and distinct in the same breath.
Directions: 1st extraction: 5g in 8oz 195 degree water steeped for 2 minutes in graduated glass pot and decanted into glass tea ocean. 2nd steep: 200 degree water for 3 minutes, with same tools, resulting in deeper flavors that were more robustly woodsy and the spicy was lightly hinting at chicory, but the overall flavor remained close to the ‘pit of a cherry’. 3rd extraction: 200 degrees 3-4 minutes and resulting in excellent color extraction with cup beginning to fade into a soft metallic and textured cup and significantly mellowed profile.
Notes: This tea was my first black tea from Vietnam. I’ve had oolongs, green/scented-jasmine green teas from the country but never a cup that was truly black, nor anything so distinctly sources in North Vietnam or from an aged tree from the country. I can’t say enough about how amazing the dry aroma and the craft of the leaves are, particularly upon first inspection and with no cupping expectations. I was very excited to try this and to share it. The cup seems to want to communicate in a complex language of flavors, textures, and weight, with color being vibrant consistently and not a clear indicator of strength. The variable leaf size I think also affects the extraction and its strength and also contributes to the elusive nature of some of the flavors. The notes from the Tao of Tea state:
Northern tea region of Ha Giang in Vietnam is home to old growth tea trees also know as ‘Shan Tea’. A pilot project to help preserve these tea forests is underway. We work directly with this project to source this Wild Black. Long, stylish leaves, well crafted into a robust, hearty black tea.