Sunday, June 28, 2009

2008 Sinouk Champasak (Southern) Lao Organic Oolong


This was one of two very small bags of tea from Sinouk that one purchased while traveling throughout Lao. This Oolong was recommended by the Sinouk retailer. One is quite fond of the rather simple but interesting taste of the semi-oxidized tea from this Southern area of Lao that one posted about earlier this month.

These leaves are full, wiry, dark, and unbroken. The smell exudes that characteristic scent of Paxsong tea- a lingering coffee tone with hints of milky chocolate and overpowering raisin. Cue Salivation.

One puts three scoops of these space consuming leaves into the pot, water is added, then poured into a serving pot, then into ones cup. This cycle repeats itsself, mindlessly, mindfully.

The first sip of this tea is unforgettable as it really tastes quite different then most oolong. It has a rather unique woody-smooth, coffee-raisin taste that is a touch sweet and sometimes ending a touch bitter.

This tea has a slight roast to it. The nice roastiness of raisin and more slight bitter chocolate stay on the breath for sometime afterward.

Later infusions allow this tea to evolve slightly with raisin notes out pacing coffee and chocolate. Even some subtle soft, sour citrus notes can be noticed creating space and depth between sweet raisin and bitter-roasted coffee.

This tea becomes a touch smokey and throaty, or is it roasty and full? Sometimes it's really hard to tell with this tea. In the end this effect allows for somewhat of a fullness presenting mainly in the mouth that makes this one rather enjoyable. It seems to meld perfectly with the flavours of this tea.

It's chaqi is very noticeable but not distracting. Very similar in fact to the hong cha type of energy found in its semi-oxidized sibling.

As many sessions drag on with this oolong it develops flatter, vegital notes that sneak out under the dominating roasty- raisin and fading coffee. This tea can be enjoyed like this for a very long time as its stamina is quite good.

And so one enjoys it this way for quite some time.

Peace

14 comments:

Will said...

Just curious... why do you say "one" when you mean "my"?

Jason Witt said...

This review makes me really want to try this tea or one like it! I probably won't be able to since it doesn't seem to be available in America. I can go for raisin and roasted chocolate, though. It sounds classic Oolong and I'm partial to that.

Matt said...

Will,

Ah yes, one knew that question would come up sooner or later.

This blog is the way it is for a reason.

Everything as far as the format and general presentation of information on this blog was chosen very deliberately. These things are the way they are not simply because they look or sound eye-catching or proper but for deeper reasons.

The background and print colour, the template, the blog title, the caption below the title, the icon photo, the profile information, the profile question, what is included (and not included) in the photographs, the topics covered, the writing style, the signature, and end caption are all very deliberate.

The choice to use 'one' is supposed to signify reverence and humility, the release of ego (self-centeredness) and a freedom from possessions, possessing, or owning.

When we approach tea (and life) in this manner we can truly appreciate it to its fullest.

Jason,

This oolong was very 'classic oolong' with a twist! It didn't seem to present the fullness that one really treasures in a tradition oolong but made up for it in other ways. You should give them an email and see if you can't order some:

sinouk@laopdr.com

Peace

Will said...

But when you are giving YOUR opinion, only changing the name, that's just false modesty. Everyone knows that the opinion being expressed is yours, whether or not you use "I" and "my". So you end up coming across as pretentious, but don't achieve your actual goal.

Having a web log in the first place is a way to put YOUR thoughts out there; if you're uncomfortable with that idea, then either don't keep an online journal at all, or don't express any opinions on it.

On top of all that, it makes the site very confusing to read. "One" is used in specific cases for specific reasons in English, and the way you write actually makes things difficult to understand. There are cases where one might actually want to write "one takes some leaves and puts them in the pot" as a way to explain how someone *else* might brew a tea.

But in this case, what you're really saying is "I took some leaves and put them in the pot", which has a completely different meaning.

Jason Fasi said...

Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.
--Frank Lloyd Wright

Matt said...

Will,

At the early creation of this blog, one thought that readers would wonder what the blazes is going on, think it a bit silly, or a touch awkward at times when 'one' is used in this way.

The creative and grammatically improper decision to use 'one' in this way strikes at the heart of this blog. As explained at the caption below the blog's title. This blog strives to give the tea a voice, let the tea express itself, and give an open venue for readers to express themselves. So the use of 'one' as well as the writing style is done as to not draw attention to the author, the life of the author, the background of the author, ect. Truly these things can be inferred and are unavoidable when discussion of any 'sensation' as 'sensation' is very much subjective in nature. Everyone's relationship with tea and the sensations that come from embracing tea will always be different. Surely no two are alike.

The experimental decision to use 'one' as the doer hopes to convey a certain universality. 'One' as the doer truly is me but couldn't it be you or Jason, or a businessman in New York or a farmer in Poland? In this way it is simply about someone (anyone) and their relationship with tea.

Initially these posts may come off as pretentious to those who read this blog on a very superficial level or who simply look at one post before skipping on to the next blog, or those who think people should strictly stay in the box (follow the rules), but hopefully those that follow regularly or those who can see through the concepts and constructs of words and writing won't feel this way.

Undoubtedly, this blog would be easier to understand if 'I' was used, but it shouldn't be so confusing that readers simply don't understand what is trying to be stated. Someone wouldn't be so confused that they didn't have any idea what point is trying to be conveyed?

Besides, isn't it nice to think out of the box a little bit, something this blog should at least suggest at trying. This experimental use of 'one' wouldn't be soul contributor that completely deters someone from continuing to follow this blog?

Thanks for not holding back Will. Hope you continue to follow this blog.

Jason,

Good quote.

;)


Peace

alexis said...

Your descriptions are so vivid and beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!

Matt said...

Alexis,

Many thanks.

Peace

Rebekah said...

1) I personally find that every decision that went into creating this blog combines to make a place of not just information -- I do come here for that -- but also peace, modesty, and clarity I appreciate deeply and learn from as well.

2) Coffee taste -- any thoughts on how to distinguish the taste of the tea itself from possible scent contamination in storage? Contaminating tastes can be surprisingly persistent through several infusions. ??

Matt said...

Rebekah,

The coffee taste was present in all of the different tea tried from Southern Laos, even fresh stuff that one had in a tea exclusive factory. So you can be sure that it must be due to something other than contamination from storage. Like puerh that acquires a storage odour/ taste, most of it is removed in the first few infusions. This tea still had a significant coffee taste even in later infusions.

Thanks for the respect, likewise your contribution to the blog is always appreciated.

Peace

Ho Go said...

Some Lao teas are 'smoked'. What does this mean? I'm not sure.

I've had several Lao teas, all green. Some have a pleasant enough flavor but unfortunately, never met one I cared to drink again especially in light of what is available on the world market. Lovely people, though.

Matt said...

HoGo,

"Smoked" is referring to the traditional methods of producing tea in Laos Northern tea producing area, Phongsali. This technique involves stuffing tea into a bamboo rod and smoking it over a fire.

See here:

http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/sinouk-high-mountain-smoked-green-tea.html

One enjoyed the unique nuances of this and other tea from Laos. Not terribly complicated tea, but something interesting for the pallet.

Peace

gawe said...

Hi, I have bought this tea several years ago in lao and still keep the package as I hope to find a possibility to order it via internet or via a friend who travels to lao. this is really special. no, it is not the best tea of the world, but it tastes different and i liked it very much and would like to sip this tea again. kind regards from austria, gabi

Matt said...

Gawe,

Yes, agreed it is most definitely not the best oolong but it is a very interesting taste.

Let us know if you can track it down on the internet.

Peace