Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What-Cha's Vietnam Wild 'Tiger Monkey' Green Tea

What-Cha's Description
A wild growing green tea with a woody taste which develops with subsequent steeps

My thoughts
I never knew until recently just how much I needed Vietnamese green teas in my life. When I first got a couple different Vietnamese teas from What-Cha, I didn't really expect them to be much different that any of the Chinese or Taiwanese greens I've had. I couldn't have been more wrong. Vietnamese green teas have a distinctive potent grassy flavor to them that I love, but under that grassiness lies some of the most unique and noteworthy flavors I've ever found in southeast Asian teas. This 'Tiger Monkey' is one I've had my eye on for quite a while, and it hasn't disappointed.

Dry leaves - The leaves are quite small and twisted into thin points. The aroma is actually pretty weak, but it's mostly dry grass and hay, with just a hint of smokiness. One thing I've noticed about Vietnamese teas is that the dry aroma and the wet aroma are fairly similar, but differ greatly in pungency. This one is no exception.

Brewing parameters - 175F, 45s first, +15s after

Tasting notes - Grassy, dried hay, oak, cedar smoke, nutty

Immediately you're hit with the typical strong grassy/hay taste of a Vietnamese green. Some green teas can be a muddled vegetal mixture, but the grass and hay notes come through strong with these teas. A couple seconds after the sip, the flavor profile changes quite dramatically. The grassiness fades quickly and is replaced by wonderful nutty/woody/smoky elements. I tend to have a hard time distinguishing between different woody tastes and aromas, but this is pretty obviously oak and cedar. The nuttiness is mild and almost reminiscent of a long jing, but with the addition of a mild cedar smokiness. There is just a hint of astringency after the sip.

Subsequent steeps do indeed develop into a more defined and smoother brew. The grassiness loses some of it's potency after a couple infusions, and the woody/smoky taste becomes a bit more prominent. It's not a dramatic change, but I liked the later brews even more than the first. I made a total of 7 cups from these leaves and the last couple were fairly weak. After steep #5, you may want to tack on a little more time to get all these leaves have to offer.

It's quite a unique tea, and is definitely worth revisiting again. It wasn't my favorite Vietnam green, but it has some stiff competition from some of the other greens from the South China Sea. It is a very affordable tea as well (as are most of the Vietnamese teas), at $7.71 for 50g.

You can buy it at What-Cha here:

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