Batch 77 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea. This name encompasses the two most renowned names of traditionally made Taiwan Oolong Teas. The name is derived from a combination of a place name that represents a processing method —Dong Ding, together with the name of tea cultivar — Tie Guan Yin. This batch is from winter 2021 harvest, and was allowed to settle for more than 3 months after extensive roasting.
Tie Guan Yin tea leaves are substantial, with thick stems. This provides relatively more constituents within each leaf, offering a bold character of tea. When these leaves are cured in the traditional way, with extensive oxidation and post-production roasting, they offer a rich, full flavored brew.
Our friend in Lugu is heir to his family of Dong Ding Oolong Tea makers. His father planted a plot of Tie Guan Yin cultivar over 30 years ago, at the request of a local tea merchant. This was an anomaly at the time, offering a differentiating value to their produce. They process their Tie Guan Yin in the same fashion as a traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong Tea, but the Tie Guan Yin Tea leaves offer a distinctive profile — with pronounced earthy/mineral notes.
About six years ago, he took cuttings from his father's plot of Tie Guan Yin and brought them to a nursery to cultivate saplings. He then planted a new plot of this strain that is now quite rare in Taiwan. A new strain of Tie Guan Yin with larger leaves and more prolific yield is more commonly cultivated nowadays. This new strain has less distinctive qualities than the earlier generation.
We are impressed by the efforts of this young farmer to preserve what can be considered an heirloom strain of tea that is now quite rare, especially in central Taiwan. We feel that his efforts to preserve his tradition by cultivating a variety of tea that makes his family produce stand apart is admirable. Given that he is employed by Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station (a subdivision of the Dept. of Agriculture), and is also a professional tea judge at the Lugu Farmers' Association, his skill set and knowledge of tea faming and processing are exemplary.
Shown above is the father, son and uncle facilitating a harvest from this new plot of tea a few years ago. It's just this type of local scene that is the heart of our inspiration. This is what it's all about!
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