Wandering Lao Cha got to the Chiang Rai mountains in Thailand. There, he has exchanged knowledge of tea with the local Chinese community. At a meeting, the locals presented a unique GABA tea to him. The tea had the smell and taste of wild berries, plum jam, and honey oats – unusual for oolongs.
After trying this tea, Lao Cha felt that he got into a meditative state of complete presence and inner balance, although the discussion was heated and emotional.
- Dear brothers, what is this tea? - Lao Cha asked the local farmers.
- This is the good old Ruan Zhi that we brought from Taiwan, planted in the local fertile soil and processed as GABA tea.
This is how tea reminded the all-wise Lao Cha that in the endless world under Heaven, there is always something new sprouting from something well-known.
If you haven't heard the buzz yet, you may ask: what is GABA tea? Furthermore, what is GABA? GABA is a Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, a component directly responsible for regulating our muscle tone, calming nerves, improving sleep, and balancing our moods. It is naturally present in our bodies. And GABA is also naturally present in tea! All teas have GABA in them, although in small amounts that don't play a significant role.
In the 1980s, Japanese scientists found that letting tea ferment from 6 to 10 hours in a nitrogen-rich / oxygen-free environment results in GABA in the tea leaves rising ten times higher than the original. Though it is still inconclusive whether or not GABA, when taken orally, can cross the blood-to-brain barrier (BBB), many people claim that GABA tea helps them to promote clarity and a peaceful state of being.
To produce GABA-rich tea, farmers first shade the tea bushes for two weeks before harvest to increase the tea's natural glutamic acid index. Then, they put the fresh-picked tea leaves into vacuum drums. There, the oxygen levels dwindle while the nitrogen levels rise.
Farmers shade the tea two weeks before harvest.
Thai Oolongs are descendants of Taiwanese cultivars. Farmers of Taiwanese origin who settled in Thailand produce oolongs on the slopes of Thai mountains. Tea trees are very demanding and require a lot of water and minerals. The cultivation of tea in Thailand started relatively recently. Furthermore, unlike some areas in China and Taiwan, the land allotted for plantations is rich and not yet depleted.
This tea comes from one of the oldest oolong farms in Chiang Rai province. The founder of this farm is no longer alive - however, he developed his own farming technique and passed it on to his daughters – the makers of this stunning tea.
Farmers harvest this GABA tea in February – the earliest possible harvest. Furthermore, this is when the young leaves are full of L-theanine and other amino acids. Thus, this lightly roasted oolong has a complex and unique aroma and taste with raspberry, green pear, plum jam, and honey oats notes.
This high mountain oolong is USDA-certified organic. At the plantation, tea grows together with daisies and other weeds. Additionally, cows roam freely to gaze around – tea leaves are too bitter for them, while wildflowers and weeds are excellent food. That's the Thai way of cow-working;)
- Place of Origin: Chiang Rai, Thailand
- Altitude: 1200m
- Harvest Date: December 10, 2022
Picking Standard: One bud and two or three leaves
- Roast Level: Light
- Aroma: Berries & honey oats
- Taste: Sweet & sour, with raspberry, pear, and plum-jam notes
- Cultivar: Ruan Zhi (aka Qing Xin / TRES#17)
205℉ / 95℃
1g per 50ml 3-4min
1g per 20ml 10sec + 5sec for each subsequent infusion
I’m a big fan of anything GABA, and this oolong didn’t disappoint! I’m not the best at describing tea, but I would say this was very smooth and rich. I’ve brewed it twice now with my gaiwan, and I ran out of tummy space before the leaves were depleted! 🤣 I was refreshed and focused after each session. Very good tea, now one of my favorites!
I ordered this tea for my wife (oolong teas are some of her favorites). Her first impression was, "Smooth!" The second one was, "A kind of tang, then settles down to an almost sweetness. Nice how the leaves uncurl. Yup, it's on my 'go-to' list now." So the tea is a hit around here!
My wife and I just tried this GABA for the first time and loved it. First impression based on the aroma was of cinnamon raisin toast. We're not great on notes but this smacked us right between the eyes. I got that aroma on first smell. My wife said the aroma was very familiar and when I said cinnamon raisin toast she quickly said yes, that's it! Often the notes change as we move from smelling the dry leaves to the liquor after the brew. In this case we felt the cinnamon aroma remained which was a treat. We took the GABA oolong to 8 infusions. The color remained bright and the taste strong. We will definitely buy again.
I absolutely love this Gaba. It has a sweet, honey note that is prominent from the first infusion, complimented by a toasty/bready note. Further infusions bring out more florals. Think of this tea as warm toast with fresh local honey or a mediterranean baklava.
Good thing lao cha had acces to reinforced steel cylinders pressure injected with nitrogen gass. The ancient ways really are enlightening.
That's how you know that Lao Cha is timeless;)