This Korean balhyocha is a unique one. It's name "Gaya Cha" is in reference to the one of the legends of how tea first arrived in Korea. As the story goes, a princess from India brought a tea plant that she had acquired in Southern China and offered it to the King of the Gaya Kingdom (for the other possible ways tea made its way to Korea see here, here, and here). This yellow tea from Woonsang underwent fermentation for 2-3 years before release and is a unique spin on the more typical Korean balhyocha out there.
These are not your typical balhyocha leaves. They have deep syrupy-molasses notes that are distinct but thin and light with vibrantly fruity sweet notes of melons, peach, raspberries, and papayas on the high end. These leaves are unique looking and are not rolled at all. They are packed into about 2/3 of the small pot.
The first infusion is prepared with boiling water that spends only a very short time in the cooling pot before plunging over these beautiful leaves. A simple, sweet, apple-apricot taste fills the mouth. A very cereal, rice, and hay aftertaste greets them. There is a very nice wood sap-syrup taste underneath it all. A simple wood bark taste is all that is left on the breath. The mouthfeel is simple, watery, and slightly grainy in the front of the mouth.
The second infusion presents with a juicy apricot-apple-orange, barely spicy, taste. It slowly meets up with a slightly dry-wood-bark, a slippery-sappy woody taste. These flavours stretch out over the profile. The mouthfeel is both watery and grainy and coats the mouth and upper throat. The qi has already made the body light, it feels cozy, warm, and comforted.
The third infusion is of the same delicious fruity tastes but with the wood-bark elements encroaching on the initial taste right next to the fresh, sweet, watery, vibrant fruit. This tea is very flavourful but simple and refreshing without a deep quality to it. It strikes a nice balance between vibrant fruits and woody bark over a watery base which makes this simple balance easy to enjoy.
In the fourth and fifth infusions the dry-bark-wood notes are slightly more dominant than the fruitier notes both in the initial flavour and throughout the profile. The fruity notes develop more of a malted faint molasses quality to them here. The mouthfeel holds its own.
The sixth and seventh infusions are more juicy tasting but lack the vibrancy found in the first infusions. The aftertaste is dominated by dry wood bark.