Batch 74 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Eco-Farmed GABA Oolong Tea. We coined the term Eco-Farmed to represent tea that is sourced from a certified organic tea farm, without representing the certification itself. This farm is not only certified organic, but it is managed with the most natural farming methods we've seen in the local tea industry here in Taiwan. Our friend has independently pioneered these farming methods, and after 20 years of challenging research, is now successfully managing several plots of tea and producing specialty types of organic tea.
He has painstakingly transitioned conventionally farmed plots of tea that would have been abandoned into productive organic tea gardens. This batch of tea is made from hand-picked Four Seasons Spring cultivar, which he has proven to be a preferable tea strain for making heavily processed teas, such as GABA, roasted Oolong, and Black Tea. While most of his produce is machine harvested, he and his family make very small hand-picked small batches a few times a year to make the best quality tea possible from their naturally grown tea leaves.
GABA is the acronym for gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that is responsible for relaxation. In recent decades, GABA in the form of food supplements have become popular, with the claim of having stress-reducing qualities. Japanese scientists discovered a method of processing tea leaves that converts the glutamic acid in tea leaves into GABA. This is done by wilting the leaves in an anaerobic environment.
Our organic tea farmer friends make their GABA tea using Oolong Tea processing methods. The only variation from Oolong Tea making is that tea leaves that are made into GABA must be wilted in an oxygen free atmosphere. The photo above shows the steel drums that our source of GABA tea uses for this process. Tea leaves are put in a netted sack, and placed in these sealed drums, the air inside is then mechanically extracted. The leaves are left to wilt in these sealed drums for 10 hour intervals, causing transformations in the chemical compounds in the tea leaves. They are taken out of the drums and tumbled in large bamboo cylinders for a few hours between the periods of wilting in the vacuum sealed drums. Overall, the leaves undergo about 30 hours of wilting in an anaerobic environment, with about six hours of tumbling in between. They are then put through tumble heating, rolling and drying using the same basic methods of Oolong Tea processing.
We feel honored to have the opportunity to procure tea from this exemplary source, and show our support of their arduous efforts to produce specialty teas from certified organic tea farms. Much more than the certification is embodied in the overall approach to natural farming, and the ripple effect it has already begun to have on the local tea farming community.
In all honesty, we have felt a sense of mental clarity combined with physical relaxation after a Gongfu tea brewing session of GABA Oolong tea that stands apart from the more general bodymind experience of imbibing quality tea. We'd love to hear what your experience of this tea is! Please leave your feedback in the comments section below.
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