According to a legend, a Georgian Prince called Miha Eristavi first encountered tea during his travels across China in the 1830s. He smuggled some seeds as it was not legal to export seeds from China then (at the verge of opium wars). Some people believe that the seeds that were brought over by Prince Miha are wild trees of 100-200 years (almost qualify for being a gushu). As they have not been harvested, they grow naturally in the Georgian wilderness.
The seller posted some photos of wild tea trees from Georgia, which is very interesting for me to see. Mainly because I was in the Turkish part of the tea growing regions of Black Sea recently and I know that the seeds to Turkey came from Georgia. As this resource suggests, Georgia had become the leading supplier of tea for the whole of the Soviet Union by the end of 1920ies. More and more people were drinking tea; the production had to increase. But this meant that the quality was compromised, and the tea’s reputation was damaged. By the 1990s many of Georgia’s plantations had been cut down or abandoned.
I had high expectations from this tea, given its story. It had a pleasant floral aroma, but the flavour was not as floral or sweet as I expected. I had strong mineral notes and lingering bitterness. I’ll give it a second chance, of course, but for now, my expectations are unmet.
Origin: Imereti, Georgia
Harvest time: 2020
Leave colour: Tones of green and brown with some white fuzz on buds
Liquor colour: Golden yellow
Tea aroma: Floral
Tea taste: Slightly sweet with dominant mineral notes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 90°C water temperature (yes don’t be afraid) 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 10 years or more if aged appropriately.