Ceylon OPA#2 Green Tea from Uva Halpewatte Exports
Nothing is more exciting to a tea enthusiast than receiving a package of fresh samples from their favorite estates. Recently, I have received two packages from two estates in the Uva region of Sri Lanka. If any of you have read my blog somewhat consistently, you already realize that Sri Lanka is my favorite black tea producing country. The bright color of the tea liquor, the brisk yet citrusy scents and tastes, and the sweet, fruity smells of the dry tea leaves truly make me happy.
These packages, however, are giving me an opportunity to explore two sides of the Sri Lankan tea industry that I am less familiar with: green teas and artisanal teas. Before receiving these packages, I only had an opportunity to taste one Sri Lankan green tea from the Idulgashinna Estates. I was quite happy with that green tea, and have been looking forward to trying out more green teas from other estates. Well, that opportunity has finally arrived. These two packages include eight different varieties of Sri Lankan green tea!
Today’s review focuses on an OPA#2 that was sent from the Glassngh factory, courtesy of a good man, Eranga, at UHE. A pleasant surprise has struck me as the sample pack is opened, a smoky aroma! Eranga seems to have read my mind, as I have been looking for a smoky and earthy green tea to use as a base for a new Moroccan Mint blend. Well done, Eranga. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this OPA#2 Green Tea range in color from light to dark green, as well as some light to dark brown leaves. The leaves appear to be lightly rolled. There is much variation in the size and shape of the leaves. There appears to be both fully intact leaves and fragments, as well as some mostly bare stems. The aroma is smoky and earthy.
The standard method of preparation was used for this sample. Purified water was heated to 175°F (80°C). Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in a twenty ounce (570 ml) cast-iron tetsubin. The leaves were infused for one minute and thirty seconds.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma was smoky (burnt wood) and earthy. The liquor has a medium body, with a smooth, light feel. The taste is smoky (burnt wood), earthy (wet stones), mineral, even a light sweetness, and a very mild astringency. The finish and aftertaste are floral and lingering. Has some similarities to a sheng pu’er. This tea has nice layers of taste, and great balance.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a shade lighter of golden-yellow color. The aroma and taste leveled out slightly, creating an improved balance of all of the tastes. The aftertaste remains floral. Taste and aroma wise, this infusion was just as good of a quality as the first.
The third infusion had the exact same shade of golden-yellow as the second infusion. The aroma, body, and taste barely lightened at all. This tea lost very little character between the second and third infusions, leading me to believe that a fourth infusion, and maybe a fifth, will produce an acceptable flavor. Very impressive for a green tea to hold it’s character over three infusions.
The infused leaves of this tea are mostly a fresh, fleshy green color. There are brown spots on some leaves, and a few of the leaves are completely brown. There are some fully intact leaves, but most are large fragments, and a few bare stems. There is significant variation in the size and shape of the leaves. The leaves have an earthy (wet forest) scent, with a touch of burnt wood. The leaves are not delicate, and actually have an unexpected level of integrity to them, suggesting that additional infusions are certainly possible.
Although the photo is not posted, I did have some time left in the work day, and decided to prepare a fourth infusion. Although it lightened quite a bit, I still found the fourth infusion tasteful enough to appreciate. I am very impressed by the consistency of the liquors from infusion to infusion. For a green tea to maintain such consistency is noteworthy. I really enjoyed the smoky, earthy, and mineral tastes and aromas of this tea. I think this will make a nice base tea for a Moroccan Mint, and it certainly is perfectly tasteful all on it’s own. I look forward to using the remainder of this sample and experimenting with various mint leaves.
As I mentioned before, I noticed some similarities between this tea and a sheng pu’er that is in my collection. Obviously this tea was missing the refined qualities of the pu’er, but the layers of earth, specifically the wet stones taste, and the mineral tastes were very similar, as well as the consistency of the flavor over four infusions. I can honestly say that I could see this tea becoming a staple in my personal collection, as well as a preferred green tea to other tea drinkers who like a more complex and tasteful green tea.
A big thanks to Eranga for acquiring this sample, and those yet to be reviewed, for me. I look forward to progressing through the remainder of the samples from UHE.