Zi Chun Tea is a small tea company that prides itself is sustainable, fair-trade, and eco-friendly tea. They have an “on the ground” team in each of the countries that they source their tea from and normally work with small, family-owned tea farms that abide by fair-trade and ethical conditions. They sent me their GABA Oolong for me to try and give back my feedback. Since this is my first time interacting with GABA, I wanted to start by getting into what it is, what it does, and how it occurs. Here are my thoughts:
What is GABA and where does it come from?
GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a neurotransmitter that is normally found in the brain and helps make sure messages are received. GABA is said to reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and lower stress.
It is created in tea by a different form of fermentation. First, the tea leaves are partially shaded two weeks before harvesting increasing the presence of glutamic acid in the leaves and then are exposed to nitrogen (instead of oxygen) which converts the glutamic acid to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In order to meet Japanese requirements, the content of GABA per 100g dry weight must be equal or above 150mg.
Let’s get into the Tea!
GABA Oolong Tea: This tea is unlike anything I have tried before. I used my gaiwan for this tea, making sure to stop at each steep to really analyze the tea and how I was feeling. Upon first taste, this tea had both sweet and sour aspects to it. Honestly, the taste confused me so much that for the first steeping, I was not able to pick up any notes for this tea. I actually let the second steeping sit for a while and cool (I also transitioned my little tea tasting area outside because it was absolutely gorgeous), this was so I could attempt to really figure out what I was tasting and get some solid tasting notes. The sour taste felt super familiar, but I really struggled with what it was. The tea was a lovely deep golden color. At the third steep, I started gathering some thoughts on the tea. The first actual taste that I noticed was that of a fermented strawberry. Long story on how I know that taste, but it definitely has a more sour and fermented taste to the tea, but not like a pu’erh. The third steep also saw the tea leaves nicely unfolding in my gaiwan.
I used this tea another day to help with my stress at my job (not that I have a stressful job, but that day I was rather stressed). I find that using my gaiwan while working sometimes helps me take a step back and focus on breathing and being calm. This is in addition to the calming nature of this tea. Honestly, I liked this tea and the unique taste that it provided. The leaves especially astounded me, where the little leaves and branches expanded and were whole leaves.
Tea Bush/Varietal: Si Ji Chuan (4 Seasons)
Origin: Nantou County, Central Taiwan
Elevation: 400-600 m (1,312 – 1,968 ft)
GABA content: Not less than 180mg per 100g of tea
Price: This tea sells at $21.50 for 100 grams. Based on the quality, traceability, and packaging of this tea, I would say that this pricing is quite fair. Especially for the amount of tea that you get.
Packaging: The tea had two containers protecting it from the air. The first layer was a cardboard-like container. The second was what the tea was actually in, which was similar to a foil of sort. I was not able to smell the aroma of the tea at all, which was great and expected given the amount of packaging that the tea has. I believe both pieces of packaging are also eco-friendly.
Sourcing & Production: As stated above, this tea is sourced from Nantou County in Central Taiwan. Zi Chun Tea states on their website that they are able to provide full transparency and traceability for their teas (tea garden, locations, elevation, and types of plants used) if needed. They even disclose their full production process (directly taken from their site): Fresh tea leaves picked > placed inside a pressurized barrel and vacuumed until emptied of oxygen > Infused with nitrogen & kept in barrel for 6 -10 hours > Tea leaves removed from the barrel and lightly roasted to stop halt fermentation > Rolled > Dried-Compressed > Rolled > Compressed > Re-dried > GABA Tea
Have you ever tried GABA Oolong before? It astounds me that this is the first time that I have encountered it before. I plan on utilizing it to help manage my stress while slowly energizing my body, and see if there are any continued benefits from drinking it! I hope you enjoyed this tea review, Happy Brewing!
“GABA Tea.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Apr. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GABA_tea.
“Organic GABA Oolong.” Zi Chun Tea Company, www.zi-chun.com/products-page/teas-by-region/taiwan/organic-gaba-oolong-2/.
World Tea News. “GABA Tea and the Hype around Its Health Benefits.” World Tea News, 4 Apr. 2016, worldteanews.com/tea-business-resources/gaba-tea-and-the-hype-around-its-health-benefits.