Glorious What-Cha

9:27 AM 0 Comments

What-cha is one of those weird (in a good way) tea vendors that I discovered through r/tea; even though it isn’t uncommon to see new vendors advertising and asking for advice here What-cha stood out from the start. Not just because /u/what-cha seemed more responsive then other vendors new to the sub and genuinely interested in taking our advice, but more importantly because of the uniqueness of their teas. When What-cha first launched I don’t remember seeing the tea staples that every vendor generally has (Jasmine pearls, Moroccan Mint, Da Hong Pao, etc) instead I remember a limited selection that didn’t seem thrown together, but rather curated. What really sold me on my first purchase was not just the uniqueness of the teas, but the level of information on each one.
The dry leaves on this tea are rather strange, while some are similar to pearls others are considerably larger and heavier, even though I generally like uniformity in my tea these cannon balls are quite special. As you brew they slowly unfurl and start to resemble Lovecraftian monstrosities. But I am getting ahead of myself. I’ve had gongfu sessions with all these teas before and found that they can last surprisingly long for being relatively inexpensive, but from here on I am going to be writing on my experience with What-cha’s teas brewed in my preferred style, western.
Since these teas have some variability between cannonballs the recommended brewing suggestion is four to five per cup, I have used a little more and a little less depending on the size of the cannonballs, this is one of those teas that really benefits from using a scale if you want to consistently brew your tea. While the suggested 167°F works on secondary infusions, for the first I’ve had the most success with brewing it like an oolong so the cannonballs open up. Today I decided to brew at 185°F for three minutes even though brewing at a higher temperature will allow the leaves to unfurl faster (in my gongfu sessions with this tea I would start off with 190-200°F). The liquor has deceptively anemic color for a tea with such a strong citrus scent. The taste is a little complex; it is buttery while vegetal with a hint of lemon blossom. I found it quite savory despite how pale the liquor was. It had a thicker texture then most green teas, almost like a thinner version of a High Mountain oolong. For the second infusion I brewed at 170°F for three minutes. The aroma didn’t change significantly from the first infusion, but the taste developed a tangy edge. The buttery taste nearly disappeared as well as the texture, but instead it became a little more astringent and flowery. The liquor was still anemic, but a little darker. For my third infusion I brewed at 175°F for four minutes. This was my favorite infusion as the tanginess from the second was still present, and a new citrus curd taste developed. The aroma was still predominantly citrusy.
Like the cannonball this is another interesting tea, while not exactly pearls or as large as the cannonball the dry leaves have an interesting shape that I haven’t encountered before. For my first infusion I brewed at 167°F for three minutes and like the cannonball the liquor comes off as anemic, but tasting it is completely different. This is another tea with a strong citrus aroma, a little stronger then then cannonball, but still quite pleasant. As for the taste this is grassy and vegetal, while the cannonball had a little sweetness to it, this one did not and I think it gave it a nice cleaner flavor. For my second infusion I brewed at 175°F for three and a half minutes and for my third I brewed at 185°F for three minutes; I didn’t taste or smell a noticeable difference in these infusions. They were still citrusy and grassy, but the color of the liquor improved. This is another tea that I enjoy, while the leaves do not undergo as significance metamorphosis as the cannonball it is quite nice to watch as it brews.
While the dry leaves on this tea may not be as visually unique as the previous two, it has an amazing texture. I have never felt a tea as soft as this, never before have I found myself fondling tea leaves, and I don’t know if the texture adds anything to the brewed tea, but for some reason I want all tea to feel this nice. Regardless of how soft this tea is I brewed it 176°F for two minutes and found out this tea has a very strong floral aroma, almost like a pouching. As for the taste I’ve found it to have a very smooth peach taste. For my second infusion I brewed at 180°Ffor two and half minutes. It still had a floral scent, but it became sharper. The peach taste started to taste riper and it was a nice improvement over the last infusion. For my final infusion I brewed at 185°F for three minutes; the aroma became quite distinct while the last two infusions smelled like indistinct flowers, this time I was getting lime blossoms. And the peach taste was still there, but it became a little overripe (in a good way like a peach that is not going to last to the end of the day). I love this tea, while it doesn’t change as much as What-cha’s other teas, it is quite nice I can imagine serving this to someone who doesn’t like tea/unflavored teas and still enjoy it.
I don’t really find the dry leaves that interesting, they don’t look to be rolled with the same apparent finesse as the others. Unfortunately with this tea I couldn’t taste a significant difference between infusions. I brewed at 176°F (then 185°F and 190°F) for three minutes (three and half and followed by four minutes). This is a very delicate tea, which straddles the line between a green and a white. It is sweet, but astringent with a slight nectarine taste. While this is probably my least favorite of What-cha’s teas, it isn’t bad, I just enjoy greener teas.
The dry leaves on this tea are absolutely stunning, especially for a non-Japanese Sencha, in fact it looks more like a Sencha then Japanese Senchas, if that makes any sense. I, like many others, have had issues with Senchas produced outside of Japan and was hesitant about buying this, but I took the risk. I quite enjoy this, in fact this is my favorite Sencha I had this year. It tastes like a cross between a Japanese Sencha and a sweeter Chinese green. For my first infusion I brewed 167°F for two minutes. It has a light grassy taste and a medium body and perhaps the most agreeable vegetal taste I have ever encountered. It has a slight umami flavor, but not as strong as traditional Senchas. For my second infusion I brewed at 175°F for two and a half minutes. It still had a grassy taste, but the umami aspect became stronger, yet it still is somewhat sweet. I was not able to identify the aroma this time though, it was rather nice, but it kept evading me. For my third infusion I brewed at 180°F for three minutes. This is the infusion you would like if you wanted a traditional Sencha taste. It had a nice aroma and the unami was considerably stronger than the previous infusions, but there still was a little grassy edge to it.
I’ve also had samples of the Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong and the Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea both of which were quite nice and I can see myself ordering again.


Rah

Just a guy who likes tea.

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