Written by our guest blogger Gabriele
Thinking about my tea journey for Isilay's challenge, I recognized I was wandering through some very different tea universes in my life. Until I was twenty, I drank black tea in the morning and a blend of black tea with rosehips in the evening, both of which came in teabags. My mother obviously wasn't aware of caffeine in tea for us children. I abandoned teabags when I left home at 21 and entered the Darjeeling world, and started to get more aware of quality. However, in fact, I still had no idea. Next, I stepped into the Japanese space by becoming a fanatic macrobiotic woman drinking Kukicha, because of the lack of caffeine, then Bancha and Sencha. I then bought my first teaware.
A real jump into another dimension occurred when I discovered a Taiwanese woman running a perfect tea shop in Frankfurt with prices I had never seen. I thought she must be crazy. Still, I purchased the first Oriental Beauty, and it struck me like lightning, what a taste explosion! But I didn't really dare to switch over into this new universe completely until five years ago. I joined some tea workshops to learn everything about tea. I then met another beautiful Taiwanese woman running a tea shop. She became a friend of mine and taught me so much about oolong, so I entered the Blue Tea Universe. I was lost for all other worlds for some time. And at present I'm floating in the open space of an endless tea universe, a bit tea crazy with a friend in Berlin loves tea at least as much as me. No end in sight...
And so some weeks ago I heard that there's a Teagarden near Cologne in Germany where a Korean woman is planting many different cultivars for 17 years. Her cultivars include those from Laos, Japan, China, Korea, India and so on, even Camellia taliensis is growing there. She is producing every kind of tea, yes! Green, black, oolong, red, yellow, and puer production is starting too. Even Maocha is available. But still, they don't harvest enough tea for commercial purposes. But: It is possible to grow tea in Germany!
The tea I was drinking today is a white one made from a Korean cultivar, planted in 2013 in Germany. The picking is beautiful, small leaves in every shade from light to darker green to dark brown, no crushed leaves, smells and looks like a forest floor at the end of summer. The tea itself is shining like the sun, yellow-orange. It is full-bodied with a thick and soft texture, and full of versatility. Its aromas change from steeping to steeping. At the beginning I tasted a spring meadow with herbs and flowers, which developed into some almonds followed by fruitiness and minerality later on. I was so surprised that a tea grown in Germany can taste like this. Maybe a high-quality white tea from Fujian would last one or two steepings longer. Still, I am sure these German plants will develop more strength when they are getting a bit older and can grow deeper roots than today. Today they are still very young. Haeng Ok, the Korean tea master, has definitely done a great job!
Origin: Tscha-Nara Teagarden Odenthal-Scheuren near Cologne, Germany. Cultivar from Chilgok, South Korea.
Harvest time: 23.06.2020
Leaf colour: light green, olive, dark green, hazelnut, mushroom and dark brown
Liquor colour: yellow orange golden
Tea aroma: herbs, white flowers, pear compote - in the empty cup: mastic, lemon tea.
Tea taste: herbs like rosemary, fresh hay, flowers, pear jam, marzipan, later stones and lemon curd - no bitterness
Steeping: I took 4 g of leaves for about 90 ml of water in a gaiwan. First steeping 80°C for 60 sec, second infusion 90°C for 60 sec, following steepings 95°C 15 sec longer each.
Shelf life: I'm sure this tea can be aged, we shall see.