I apologize for the recent lack of posts – though I had been drinking even more tea than I usually do in January, those teas were used just to keep me going. Time somehow became my enemy and prohibited me from doing anything apart from work-related things. Everything is getting back to the way it was before, so I hope February will be better – I have quite a lot of teas and things to write about, after all.
Being an another experiment of Saitama-based tea master Yoshiaki Hiruma also known as Gokuchanin, this unusual tea bears the name Tefutefu, meaning „Butterfly“ in old Japanese. As the name Hanhakoucha indicates, this once again is an oolong, though this time, the oxidation went farther than in case of Gokuchanin's Hanhakoucha Toyoka, about which I wrote some time ago – Tefutefu is supposed to be inspired by Taiwanese Bai Hao or, in English, Oriental Beauty oolong. However, it's hard to say as to how far the inspiration goes – whether it's only the level of oxidation and following processing method, or also the influence of tea jassids (or some similar pest?). This tea was purchased from Slovak shop Nomad.sk, which claims it to be hand-processed.
The package, which also seems to be in accordance to the Taiwanese inspiration, reveals leaves ranging in color from reddish brown and black to hairy white, being smaller, more fragmented and generally quite different from leaves of most original Oriental Beauty teas. Their smell is intensive, sweet and dominated by tones of honey, ripe fruit and flowers, accompanied by slightly acidic hint of orange and lime. Though it bears some similarities to Bai Hao oolong, it resembles other teas as well – Chinese white teas like Bai Mu Dan or even Shou Mei, for example. That seems to be quite a typical thing for Gokuchanin – his teas truly fulfill the meaning of word “experiment”. Even though he usually inspires himself by some famous Chinese or Taiwanese tea, the result is something completely different, new and original, making its comparison to any of its inspiration sources literally impossible.
I've tried brewing this tea in various vessels, most suitable and satisfying of which turned out to be Chinese style of brewing in small porcelain gaiwan. Its pure white color seems to be in a great contrast with darker character of this tea, which I found very pleasant for eyes, enhancing the overall feeling of this session. After being placed into the preheated gaiwan, smell of this tea even intensifies, now being much more reminiscent of Bai Hao oolong.
Prepared with water right under the boiling point, the first infusion is golden yellow in color and very warm and mild, yet aromatic in taste with predominant nuances of citrus fruit, pears and honey sweetness, which lingers in mouth for a long time after drinking and creates a pleasant aftertaste, just as mild and rich at the same time as the tea itself ending with a slight sour note, reminding me of orange and lime.
The second infusion is already a bit darker in color, now being more of an orange-yellow and also significantly vivider in taste with tones of honey and soft, warm sweetness similar to that of ripe autumnal fruit, especially apples and pears. Nuances of citrus fruit are present as well, though they aren't dominant in this brew, being subdued by honey sweetness.
This seems to be the kind of tea which doesn't get any astringent even when brewed for quite a long time – it just intensifies instead, as seen on the third infusion, which I forgot to pour down on time. Even so, its color is very similar to that of the second infusion and so is the taste – smooth, sweet and fruity, full and very reminiscent of honey and very light, mild flower nectar aroma, accompanied by hint of sour citrous notes.
Dominance of slightly sour citrus fruit notes returns in the fifth and continues to get more vivid in the sixth and seventh infusions; though these brews are now significantly less sweet, they are pleasantly light and refreshing with overall feeling similar to that of drinking good, cold fruit juice in summer.
One more infusion is made with enhanced brewing time, still very smooth, refreshing and fruity; this is probably the first time I ever made eight enjoyable brews of any Japanese tea.
After the last brew, the leaves seem surprisingly much less fragmented than in their dry form – even whole little leaves can be found, reminiscent more of a buds than full leaves, which are generally used in Japanese tea production.