I recently wrote a post about a tea that I enjoyed very much called the Himalayan Shiiba, from Jun Chiyabari tea garden in Nepal. Over the past week I was excited to have a chance to try another tea from the same tea garden. This tea is a black tea called Himalayan Orange, and came from an online tea friend named Aaron Basskin. He is the founder of an online shop called Kora Tea and Crafts, and offers satisfying Nepalese teas, as well as beautiful arts and crafts from Nepal. He also has an interesting blog where he touches upon interesting themes that range from the study of Buddhism to tea.
On his website, Aaron mentioned that the Himalayan Orange could be enjoyed western or Chinese Gong Fu style. For my blog post today I prepared and enjoyed the tea using both brewing methods, then discuss the flavor, aroma, and feeling of the tea during each session.
Western Style Session
Western style brewing refers to using a larger vessel to brew a smaller amount of tea leaves for a longer amount of time. These parameters don’t lend well to re-steeping the tea a great number of times, but some teas can be steeped 2 – 3 times when brewed in the western style. Here are the brewing parameters of my western session with the Himalayan Orange.
Water Temperature – Fresh off the boil, then cooled in a glass pitcher for 1 – 3 minutes. (I started off the session with cooler water around 80 °C, and increased the temperature for the subsequent infusions).
Leaf Weight – 3.5 grams
Brewing Vessel – 250 ml glass tea pot
Western Session Tasting Notes
Aroma of the Dry Leaves – Floral and sweet with light nutty component.
Aroma of the Wet Leaves – Floral quality (which reminded me of jasmine) with a strong sweet orange note.
1st Infusion: Brewed for 1 minute. Light, crisp, smooth, and sweet. Flavor is nutty with citric and floral quality. The aroma is pervasive and goes through the sinuses quickly.
2nd Infusion: Brewed for 2 minutes with boiling water cooled for 1 – 2 minutes (85 – 90 °C). Richer and fuller in the mouth. There are darker nutty and malty notes that come out, but these are balanced by the sweet floral and orange quality. This tea has a good energy behind it, during the second infusion I already feel quite perked up.
3rd Infusion: Brewed for 3 minutes with boiling water cooled for 1 minute (90 – 95 °C). The flavor reminds me of the first infusion. However, in this infusion the floral qualities dominate the nutty notes. This infusion is mellower, and I know the tea is starting to fade.
4th Infusion: Fresh boiled water for 10 minutes. Still enjoyable, but the tea is definitely offered all it has. Brewing 4 infusions western style is pushing the tea farther than necessary, but the fact that the tea was able to last for 3 infusions using this brewing method is commendable.
Chinese Gong Fu Style Session
Most of the tea that I review on this blog is brewed using the gong fu method. This method of tea brewing refers to using a smaller vessel to brew a larger amount of tea leaves. This produces many quick and concentrated infusions. Here are the brewing parameters of my gong fu session with the Himalayan Orange.
Water Temperature – Fresh off the boil.
Leaf Amount – 5 grams.
Brewing Vessel – 150 ml gaiwan.
Infusion Time – Brief 5 sec. wash, 1st infusion 10 seconds, 2nd infusion 15 sec., 20 sec., 30 sec., … , final infusion 1 minute.
Gong Fu Session Tasting Notes
Throughout the gong fu session I noticed that this brewing method released a darker and more robust quality from the tea. The flavor and aroma were much more nutty and malty. The floral and citric zesty qualities were much less pronounced in the flavor, but were felt as more of a lingering aftertaste on the tongue. I increased the infusion time by roughly 10 seconds each infusion, and the tea was finished by the 6th infusion.
I enjoyed seeing how the different brewing methods brought out different qualities in the Himalayan Orange. I particularly enjoyed the western brewing method because it created a smooth and complex brew. The cooler water temperature that I used in this session also highlighted the more floral and sweet citric notes of the tea. This is what I love about tea brewing. Once you become familiar with how temperature, time, and other factors can affect the outcomes of the tea in your cup, you can adjust the way you brew to bring out what you want at a certain time.
The Nepalese teas from Jun Chiyabari are definitely worth trying. My friend Aaron offers the Himalayan Orange, and other teas from Jun Chiyabari on his site.