My tasting notes: Jin Xuan oolong aged in whiskey barrels
What I like about the online tea community is how interconnected it is. No matter where you are, thanks to blogging and social media, the exchange of ideas, tea knowledge and information is amazing. I’ve been following Tania Stacey of Cuppa Cha in Australia since the beginning of my tea journey and we share very similar interests within the tea world, including creating tea recipes and pairing tea with food. Tania is a knowledgeable tea connoisseur and if you haven’t been on her Youtube channel yet you should definitely check it out, it’s chock-full with tea knowledge and recipes.
When she offered to send a sample of her newly released barrel aged tea in collaboration with Cheryl Teo (Flag & Spear) and Kym Cooper (The Steepery Tea Co.), I couldn’t resist. I mean, could you?
I asked Tania a few questions to give you guys some context.
Anna: Why did you select this particular tea to be barrel aged?
Tania: This tea was selected from 15 other contenders. We put all the teas through a tea/whiskey tasting session and we felt the Jin Xuan had most interesting flavour combination with the Starward Whiskey.
Anna: What was the inspiration behind barrel aging tea leaves?
Tania: We had seen some other whiskey aged teas and even tried some. Most of them are either an Earl Grey or black tea. It did feel like they were pushing past the safe zone. Earl Grey would be dominated by the citrus flavours and black tea is dominated by the whisky flavours. We wanted to challenge ourselves and see if we could make tea the hero in the end product.
Anna: What characteristics of the tea did you want to highlight by aging it in a barrel?
Tania: The tea had strong notes of butter, cream and floral. The whisky barrel had sweet sherry and banana bread. We were expecting sweeter, creamy banana flavours. What we feel has developed is floral and sweet ripe fruit flavour. Butter flavour in the tea has developed into the ripe banana and sherry flavour. We were very pleased with the outcome as the tea has remained the hero and the whiskey is a nice side companion.
As you will see, we all describe different flavor and aroma notes differently. In my notes, what I mean by “freshness of booze” is what Tania defined as “ripe banana”. When fruit is overripe, it smells almost alcoholic and slightly fermented and that’s somewhat similar to the effect alcohol has on your nose when you open a bottle of whiskey and take a whiff.
Tea Name: Old Barrel Tea Co. Jin Xuan Oolong (Batch No. 001) aged in STARWARD whisky barrels
Origin: Chiayi, Alishan, Taiwan
Ingredients: oolong aged 67 days in whisky barrels
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Leaves/Water Ratio: 4 gr / 5 oz filtered tap water
Water Temperature: 200 F / 95 C
Steep Time: 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds
dry leaves: emerald green, tightly rolled balls with visible stem sticking out
wet leaves: dark green, stems are light green
liquor: pale yellow with green undertones
dry leaves: ripe apricots, apricot skin, some “freshness” of booze, when shaken in warmed up gaiwan, creamy, milky notes and some woodsy and caramel notes
wet leaves: floral and roasty, woodsy, some whiskey notes
liquor: “freshness” of booze, sweet, woodsy
liquor: green grape skin, floral notes especially as it cools, booze-like notes are subtle
OVERALL IMPRESSION: it would be interesting to taste the same tea before and after the barrel aging process and also side by side with the whisky. I really think the tea has remained the hero here, as Tania said.
You can find this tea here.
Disclaimer: Sample provided for review. I did not receive any compensation by any of the brands or businesses mentioned in this blog post. This is my honest opinion.