What-Cha Thailand Sticky Rice Khao Hom Oolong

Origin: Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai province, Thailand
Harvest: April 2015
Cultivar: TTes #12 (Jin Xuan) cross between Ying Zhi Hong Xin and TTES #8
Elevation: 1000m

I really should start sampling teas in the order I received them, I still have quite a few teas to try from my previous What-Cha shipment and I am already digging around in my latest. I decided to try this because I found out Alistair retired a rather interesting Jin Xuan from Fujian that I rather liked (luckily I still have a bit left over!) and I was in the mood for a nice milky tea. I’ll admit this tea scares me a little bit it seems so unlike anything Alistair has sourced so far, from the name alone it sounds more like the kind of a certain tea store infamous for their teas blended with feathers and nails than any of the teas from What-Cha. Nevertheless I decided to take the plunge and order 50g. What-Cha describes this as:
Has a creamy texture and sticky rice aroma, imparted unto the tea during processing by heating the sticky rice plant's leaves along with the tea leaves.
Sticky rice scented tea is a specialty of northern Thailand, although traditionally green tea is used, Jin Xuan Oolong produces just as good if not better results.
Produced in Northern Thailand in what was once the hub of the 'Golden Triangle', the farmers in 1994 turned their back on opium production and switched to tea, importing a range of tea plants from Taiwan's famed tea producing region Alishan. 
Despite my reservations I love Khao Neeo Mamuang and the idea of a tea that tastes like sticky rice is amusing.

Dry Leaves: The tea is very irregular which I am taking to be a good sign, I tend to have good luck with oolongs that are not perfectly uniform. And the aroma is amazing! There are tons of toasted rice smells, as well as the smell of slightly burnt rice (like the smell of rice at the bottom of a rice cooker that has started to brown). There are some fruity notes, but the toasted rice is too strong for me to distinguish anything else

First Steeping
Temperature: 176oF
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Sticky Rice
Flavor: Sticky Rice, Toasted Rice and Popcorn
Tasting Notes: Oh my god this is amazing! It tastes pretty much exactly like sticky rice, although it desperately feels like it is missing something. From what I can infer from the description this is a scented Jin Xuan and I feel scandalous for saying this, but what if this was coated in tapioca powder? While this does taste and smells very much like sticky rice it is missing the tapioca sauce commonly served with Kaho Neeo.

Other than the amazing tastes and aroma, this has a wonderful buttery mouthfeel, it feels much nice than a tea grown at 1000m should feel!  

Second Steeping
Temperature: 180oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Sticky Rice
Flavor: Sticky Rice, Toasted Rice and Popcorn
Tasting Notes: Pretty much everything is the same as last time, although the strength of the flavors are a little different. The primarily sticky rice flavor is a little stronger, while the toasted rice is weaker.

I’m in love with this tea! While it does feel a little one note, it is absolutely amazing.

Third Steeping
Temperature: 185oF
Brewing Time: Three Minutes
Aroma: Sticky Rice and Floral
Flavor: Sticky Rice, Popcorn and Fruity
Tasting Notes:  The toasted rice flavor disappeared entirely and the popcorn flavor is waning, although the sticky rice notes are as strong as ever. There is a new fruity flavor which I suspect is the base tea coming out. The sticky rice flavor stays around for a couple more infusions, but after this infusion I feel that the base tea’s flavors start to become very apparent. I feel pretty confident in saying that the base tea before it was scented was on the greener-floral side and slightly vegetal. According to What-Cha’s description Sticky Rice tea is traditionally made out of a green tea rather than an oolong and while that does sound interesting, I rather enjoy this and going to make an uneducated guess I probably prefer a Sticky Rice Oolong over a Sticky Rice Green tea because of how long I can continuously brew an oolong.

After my first experience with this tea I did experiment around with it a little, mostly changing how long I brew this for although I did mess around with how hot of water I use to brew this with since the recommended starting temperature is a little low for an oolong, but I think the aroma comes out better when using water below 190oF. Nevertheless I loved this Jin Xuan, even more than the Fujian Jin Xuan I wrote about last year although in an ideal world I’d love for this to have a tapioca flavor as well as a mango flavor, but I am perfectly content with this as it is. At the time of writing this What-Cha is selling this tea for 50g at $7.50 and that is an amazing deal for this tea. I am a sad to say that What-Cha has retired the Fujian Jin Xuan I liked so much, but I think this is a nice replacement for it.


Just a guy who likes tea.