I tried this unique ‘glacial’ tea at a small ‘Tea Art’ (read: tea and teaware) shop in Perth, Australia and had to buy some despite the fairly serious price tag (ok, so maybe I’m a sucker for making a purchase when I’m at a ‘free tasting’!).
It really is a unique tea though: the ‘glacial’ refers to the fact that the tea is frozen fresh in vacuum sealed pouches, rather than dried. The proprietors claim to have invented the technique (I forget the story but something about tea-growing family’s scientist daughter comes home and starts experimenting). I love the idea of this freshness and it is the first time I’ve heard of this. I guess the added hassle and expense of producing and shipping a tea that has to be vacuum sealed and remain frozen is a bit prohibitively expensive for most producers…
So does all this extra effort actually produce a better tea? Well, I think so, yes. Here’s my tasting notes:
As per the advice I refreshed the tea and then steeped for only quick periods (4sec, 10sec, 15sec, 25sec, 45sec). I brewed in my little Yixing clay teapot.
Leaves: wet, dark green, large full leaves once defrosted.
Aroma: Amazingly floral, with white flowers and even light jasmine. Light sugarcane and the faintest whiff of lemon zest. There is something quite unique in there too that I just can’t put my finger on. The second steeping has all the same character but with a more rounded, honeyed bouquet. Hints of white peach. The third and fourth steepings produce a more herbatious nose that is still entirely floral but has a to be honest slightly chemical edge to it (albeit not unpleasant). Lemon and honey notes are becoming more developed.
Palate: Delicate and well balanced, with complex floral overtones matched against a freshness that is in the same spectrum as ‘grassy’ and ‘herbaceous’ but at the same time something completely different. There is an underlying citronela character that floats somewhere between eucalyptus and lemon leaves. The second steeping produces a richer flavour profile, with mellow buttery notes and a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Subsequent steepings develop slightly biscuity character, with the lemon-lime zestiness, white flowers and rich undertones still there. The palate is sweet and has good length at each steeping. The fifth steeping is (finally) a little more subdued, but still entirely pleasant.
Overall: This is a very ‘pretty’ tea, yet still displays enough depth and complexity to keep me interested till the last sip. I love this tea for something a bit different, and it really is one of the better green oolongs I’ve tried – so much complexity over multiple steepings. I’m sure the fresh-frozen technique must carry some added health benefits too (let me dream!) and as always I love the organic status.
Price: AUD$45 for 20 single-serve packs.