It is a brand new week and with that, the Oh Canada series continues on! Especially where justly made tea is concerned… JusTea is a Vancouver-based tea company, with a catalogue of more than a dozen artisanal teas that all derive from the world’s largest exporter of tea: Kenya! For the past seven years, JusTea has been dedicated to “maintaining the whole leaf and producing high-quality Kenyan teas that have never been available before”. A goal that I believe they’ve certainly achieved. Today’s post focuses on their Safari Oolong (which is meticulously crafted in small batches). The obscurity of this tea alone, was enough for me to hunt it down at this year’s Toronto Tea Festival to bring home and taste test!
Compared to its online counterpart, the bag of Safari Oolong that I purchased from JusTea at the Toronto Tea Festival looks super plain. The tea comes enclosed in a white sealed pouch with a brown diamond shaped sticker that clearly displays the company logo and website, as well as the name of the tea and weight in grams, which are both handwritten. Although described as “rolled”, this oolong at closer inspection looks to be twisted. It has a predominantly dark looking appearance, with varying shades of green throughout. The ingredients list consists of just one thing: Kenyan oolong tea. The aroma of the tea leaves is somewhat subdued once out of the packaging, but also comes off smelling both earthy and woody. It reminds me very much of the outdoors.
JusTea recommends steeping one teaspoon of their Safari Oolong at 190°F for three minutes. I opted for a shorter steep time of two full minutes in 90°C water.
Safari Oolong brews up a liquor that is comparable to one from a more oxidized oolong, or even a Chinese green tea. It is amber-like, but with orange dominating over yellow. The aroma post-steep is really fragrant, with a familiarity that I can’t quite put my finger on, but overall, it is unique yet comforting. Upon sipping, I’m really enjoying just how smooth this oolong is going down. There is very little bitterness or astringency present, much to my delight. As I continue drinking though, a thickness begins to form onto my tongue. I wish that I could identify more of the supposed floral flavours that are described online in the tasting notes. If anything, I am getting stronger notes of baked stone fruit like plum, with a whisper of honey on the back end.
I think it is really awesome that there is a country apart from Taiwan or China that grows exceptional oolong tea, and that I was able to try out this rare Kenyan tea, but I still can’t help but feel a little indifferent. JusTea’s Safari Oolong for me was just okay. It wasn’t bad, but it also didn’t wow me. I will gradually sip through what I have, maybe play around with brewing times, but ultimately will not purchase any more.
What are your thoughts on JusTea? Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned for a chai tea fit for a king! …Or in this case, a prince.
Until we steep again…