Cui Yu Jade GABA

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From Totem Tea

Cui Yu Jade GABA is a relatively new type of oolong with a very interesting profile with notes of earthy flowers and toasted nuts. Many people consume GABA tea for health / neurological benefits, and this one is especially delicious.

GABA stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric acid. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In Asia, particularly Japan, there is significant health buzz about it as being very calming, lowering stress and anxiety, helping abate mental fatigue, reducing risks of cancer, etc…

The process of making GABA tea is what makes it unique. Instead of oxidizing the leaves, the harvested leaves are processed and reduced in a oxygen free, nitrogen rich environment. The result is sometimes a tea that tastes smoother and warmer than a similarly oxidized tea. I’ve had some that are good, medium, and poor, so GABA isn’t necessarily a hallmark of quality.

This light green high mountain GABA that uses the Cui Yu varietal, also known as Jade, is exceptional and has a clean, floral, and nutty profile with a round and balanced mouth-feel. There are notes of toasted sesame that later transform into a humid summer’s day of cutting wild bramble, followed by returning to the house for a piece of rich chocolate.

Brew this Cui Yu Jade GABA like other Taiwanese semi-ball rolled oolongs with 200 degree water for 30 second infusions. To bring out more of the nutty quality increase the time. This is a forgiving tea that can handle lots of variation in brew time so feel free to experiment.

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1 Tasting Note

921 tasting notes

I might be the only person in the history of gaming who likes scanning planets in Mass Effect 2. In the joint play-through Ben and I are doing, guess who is in charge of scanning the planets, it is just so satisfying to deploy all the probes and deplete a planet’s resources. Really though, I love reading all the little blurbs on the planets, most of them are quite unique bits of world building.

Today I am looking at what I consider to be a truly unique tea, Totem Tea’s Cui Yu Jade GABA. I have had several GABA Oolongs, all of them fairly heavily oxidized (technically they are exposed to a nitrogen rich environment rather than oxygen) and dark, making them more similar to hong shui. This one is green with a gentle roast, giving it that familiar light roast feel but with a slight distinct difference that makes this tea stand out. The aroma of the curled leaves has notes of sesame seeds, buttery cashews, freshly baked bread (specifically sweet farm bread) delicate flowers (the website description is not wrong with the dandelion flowers) and a tiny bit of toasted buckwheat at the finish. It is not an overwhelmingly floral oolong, focusing on the gentle nuttiness and sweetness that usually accompanies a lightly roasted oolong.

Gaiwan time brings out notes of toasted sesame and cashew with a buttery thick quality. Alongside these nutty notes is a distinct dandelion flower jelly, it is sweet with a pollen note that lingers in the nose. There is also a gentle herbaceous and green spinach note that is very light but still present. The liquid is golden in color and aroma, something about the dandelion jelly, pollen, and sesame nuttiness reminds me of sunlight and golden things, so to me it smells gold.

The first steep is unique and light, I think I fell in love after the first sip. Light mouthfeel with a distinct mineral quality blends wonderfully with dandelion flowers and sesame seeds. Specifically the sweet taste of honey sesame seed candies. Towards the end of the sip I pick up notes of toasted rye and buckwheat, with a gentle sweet finish of raw honey and cashews that lingers.

Steep two takes the previously delicate mouthfeel and turns it into thickness, creamy and smooth but very thick. This steep brings out the more green quality of the tea, along with toasted sesame there are notes of buttery cooked cabbage, and a bit of lettuce. There are also gentle notes of dandelion flowers and sesame seeds, both of which linger well into the afterataste.

This is the last steep I write about, but it is not the last steep I enjoyed of this tea, it kept going for quite a while, it was great to keep drinking this tea well into the wee hours. This steep is a perfect balance of nutty sweetness and gentle buttery vegetation notes, neither one overpowers the other. Like before the gentle notes of dandelion flowers and sesame seeds linger well into the aftertaste. Comparing this to other GABAs I have had, I think I like this greener one better, it lacks any of the woody sourness that the darker GABAs can have, plus that dandelion note is fascinating!

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