Batch 97 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an award-winning Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea from Taiwan. It received 3rd Place Category Prize (top 18%) in the spring 2023 Muzha Farmers' Association tea competition. We were fortunate enough to procure the remainder of this batch of tea, and we purposely allowed it to rest and mellow until now to share it with the tea club. Learn about the background story in our sourcing blogpost.
These competition grade leaves are rolled noticeably more tightly than our in store batch from the same artisan in order to meet the qualification standards of the competition. Yet they are more traditionally rolled in that they are asymmetrical and not so compact as the competition standards for Dong Ding Oolong or High Mountain Oolong tea competitions. This is one of the attributes of Tie Guan Yin Oolong made in the local tradition of Muzha, Taiwan.
When the leaves are rolled less tightly, they are more conducive to uniform and thorough roasting, as well as post-production oxidation. These factors, along with the unique step of allowing to leaves to "steam" in their own juices halfway through the rolling process, all contribute to the unique flavor profile of Muzha Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea.
The key contributing factors to the overall character of this tea are extensive oxidation, a unique rolling and drying process, and extensive roasting. There is also the raw material being at least partially made of the Tie Guan Yin tea strain, along with the Jin Xuan cultivar in this case. Simply put, the more processing that goes into making a partially oxidized (Oolong) tea, the more knowledge, skill, time and effort are required. For these reasons, Tie Guan Yin can be considered the most artisanal type of tea made in Taiwan.
It's a daunting task to verbalize the flavor profile of this tea, because there really is a lot going on! On the aromatic front, we get pipe tobacco, leather, and campfire smoke. On the palate we get mineral, maple syrup, walnuts and orange zest, to name a few. It has this unique tangy factor that integrates with the bolder, rich qualities of a well roasted Oolong that puts Tie Guan Yin in a category of its own.
We never cease to be amazed at how much green coloration remains in these leaves that have been roasted for over 40 hours! It's almost magic how they can be so well cured, and yet maintain their original integrity! Don't be surprised when you find yourself tasting different flavors and qualities from brew to brew. This is part of intrigue of a traditionally made Oolong Tea from Taiwan!
Watch the tasting video for the full story and live tasting commentary: