Yes, I have crafted this beauty! I plucked some of it as well from the beautiful garden of MayLivadi in Pazar, Rize.
Typically, Turkish tea makers ‘wither’ the leaves naturally (under shade) for a day. By this way, they think more flavour comes out of it, and the ‘astringency’ goes away. After making and tasting this tea (which is mostly one leave one bud), I understand what they mean. I was expecting a sweeter taste on the basis that compared to other green teas I tried from the same region, which are composed of 2 leaves and a bud. However, I got a bit of astringency. I think I could have ended up with a green tea with sweeter notes if i) I withered the leaves longer as customary in the Black Sea region; ii) I roasted the leaves in the wok longer; iii) I hand-rolled them longer, and iv) I waited for a few weeks to steep it.
Well, this was my second hand-on tea making experience, and it really helped me to figure out the influence of processing and related factors on the taste of the tea. I was also interested in reading in Harney & Sons Guide to Tea that wok fixing gives Chinese greens a sweeter edge. This is because of the wok fixing that reaches much higher temperatures than steaming (as in Japanese teas) or oven fixing. The high heat causes the “Maillard reaction” through which leaves produce “glucosides” which leave toasted, nutty, sugared notes. As I always say, the Chinese has perfected tea making. If they don’t steam and use woks, it is because they have established long ago that it is the best way.
Next time I know what to do!
Origin: Pazar, Rize, Turkey
Harvest time: June 2020
Leave colour: Tones of green
Liquor colour: Bright yellow
Tea aroma: Vegetal (wet leaves), floral (dry leaves)
Tea taste: Pleasantly astringent with sweet and vegetal notes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 80°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 24 months (fresher the better)