What-Cha - Discover Vietnam Part 2

So I decided to continue with What-cha’s Discover Vietnam Sampler. I wasn’t too impressed with the Red Buffalo in the last post, but I felt the Flowery Oolong made up for that.

Vietnam Fish Hook Green Tea
Origin: Tan Cuong, Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam
Elevation: 250m

Dry Leaves: They kind of remind me of Korean greens, but they are surprisingly hard. Normally small twisted leaves like these are a little more pliable, but I was surprised by how little it takes for these two snap.

Temperature: 167oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Grassy and Ash
Flavor: Ash, Vegetal and Grassy
Tasting Notes: This is a very ashy tea; I almost wanted to say smoky, but the other two teas that are in this post are more what I’d describe as smoky then this. It is a little overwhelming, I hated it using the suggested brewing times, I also had this problem in the other two teas in this post. Luckily I had enough leaves to brew again and only steep for half as long, which produced a much better cup. While it was still ashy was nowhere near as overwhelming.

I may or may not buy this tea again, my problem with these three teas is that the suggested brewing times is way too long, but as long as you don’t brew as long as the suggested time or perhaps at such a high temperature. I am not really fond of brewing teas below 160oF, but these might be the only teas that I’d consider brewing at such a low temperature. Going back to whether or not I’d buy this tea again, the price isn’t bad $8.00 for 50g (at the time of writing this), but I’d have to choose between this and the other two teas in this post. The three have a very similar flavor profile, although there is some differences between the three.

Vietnam Wild Five Penny Green Tea
Origin: Suoi Giang, Yen Bai Province, Vietnam
Elevation: 1200m+

Dry Leaves: Again the leaves remind me of Korean teas, although this time they also look a little like curved long Jings. Other than that, they are a lovely shade of grayish-green. There is a slight burning wood smell. I am surprised in the uniformity in the tea leaves since this is a wild grown tea.

Temperature: 176oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Smoky, Apricot and Muscatel
Flavor: Smoky and Fruity
Tasting Notes: I brewed this again according to the suggested time, immediately afterwards I started over with new leaves and cut the time in half. The original was too smoky for me and the second was much more pleasant. Although even after cutting the time in half the smoky taste still lingered for quite a long time.

At $8 for 50g (at the time of writing this) it is certainly a good deal, as for whether I’d buy it again, maybe. I don’t have a lot of smoky and fruity teas, I am more of a grassy tea guy, but this might be the easiest of the three teas in the post to drink. Not quite a daily drinker, but it is quite nice if you like a little smoke in your greens. I am comfortable saying this is my favorite of the three, because the fruit tastes was a nice contrast to the smoke and the other two felt very similar to me, although this still feels quite similar to the others, perhaps not as much.

Vietnam Wild Tiger Monkey Green Tea
Origin: Lung Phin, Ha Giang Province, Vietnam
Elevation: 1500m

Dry Leaves:  Another wild growing tea, this time it doesn’t remind me so much of Korean greens; they look a little more Chinese-y then the Five Penny, but I can’t think of any particular style that they remind me of. They had a very nutty and smoky scent.  

Temperature: 176oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Smoke, Nutty and Wood
Flavor: Smoke, Nutty, Wood, and Vegetal
Tasting Notes: Again I started out brewing following the suggested times, and then started over with new leaves and cut the brewing time in half. This had a very pleasant wood taste, but it was slightly smokier although the nutty and smoke tastes did linger, but the nutty lingered a little longer.

For $8 for 50g, it isn’t a bad deal I generally like nutty teas, and this is no exception, my only problem with recommending this tea or any of the others is that I don’t know a lot of green tea drinkers who like smoky teas. Although like the other two teas it starts to lose it smoky edge in later infusions.

These three remind me a little of Sheng Puerhs, if they were made in Japan out of sencha. I felt like I should have rinsed the teas beforehand if I was going to follow the suggested brewing times again, just so it isn’t as harsh. If I buy any of these teas again I’ll have to play around with temperature, these are the first teas I had from What-Cha that I felt the suggested brewing times were absolutely wrong. While the Five Penny might be my favorite of the three teas I tried, the Flowery Oolong is still my favorite.


Just a guy who likes tea.