Batch 68 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Competition Grade Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea that ended up being awarded Third Place Category Prize (top 18%) by the Muzha Farmers' Association. The above photo symbolizes the distinctive quality of this tea type. Following the initial processing on the day of harvest, where the leaves undergo extensive withering, oxidation, and tumble heating, they are then tightly rolled and dried. During this rolling and drying process, when the leaves are wrapped in cloth into a ball shape, they are gently heated. This, in effect, steams the leaves in their own juices. And this is where Tie Guan Yin derives its distinctly tangy character.
Rolling and drying tea leaves is very time consuming and labor intensive. This additional step of "steaming" the leaves adds hours to the 2-3 day process. It's really a labor of love that goes into making a proper Muzha Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea. After this "primary production" of harvesting, withering, oxidizing, fixing, rolling and drying, there is the repeated roasting process that is typically spread out over weeks of time!
The photo above shows the leaves undergoing solar withering. This first step in processing Oolong Tea. The name Tie Guan Yin Oolong can represent two separate meanings. First, it is the name of a cultivar that was imported from China. Second, and most prominent in recent decades here in Taiwan, it represent a recipe — a processing method that gives it it's unique flavor profile.
Most tea in northern Taiwan is machine harvested for Oolong Tea production. Only these very small, privately managed plots of tea can be hand-picked, due the shortage of labor and the considerable cost involved. Our source of Tie Guan Yin Oolong not only harvests his own plots of tea by hand, but they are also organically certified. This is a significant value-added factor of his produce. Even though he blends his own produce with leaves that are sourced from conventional tea farms, his raw material of organically grown original strain Tie Guan Yin cultivar sets him apart from other producers.
His skill at making Tie Guan Yin Oolong have been recognized by a wall of awards he has received in local competitions. He consistently achieves top 2% awards, and received Champion Prize a couple years back. He is a top representative of his craft, as well as an especially kind and humble person. It's a privilege to know him, as well as source his tea on an ongoing basis.
Want to know more about this tea? Read the tasting notes!
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