Batch 96 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea from the Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea growing region shown above. Our mentor Lisa Lin procured this batch of bug bitten tea from her friend in Lugu, Taiwan following last fall 2022 harvest. She roasted it three times over several months time. We tasted it a few months ago in Lisa's home and immediately asked if we could procure enough to share with our tea club, and she happily obliged. It's an exemplary batch of Concubine Oolong Tea!
Overall, bug-bitten tea is a tricky ordeal, starting with the growing season. For optimal results, the leaves must be harvested after the bugs have significantly affected the crop, but before the next rainfall. If the plants have absorbed a considerable amount of water after the presence of the Leafhopper, the chemical compounds in the leaf that result from the immune system response of the plant are diluted.
Beyond the direct effect of the Leafhopper on the new leaves, the processing of the leaves is much less predictable and difficult to navigate. Specifically, the solar withering stage that happens immediately following the harvest must be done with intuitive skill, based on extensive experience. And finally, the post-production roasting of the leaves is very unpredictable in terms of bringing out the "honey-essence" flavor that results from the bug-bitten effect.
The roasted character of this tea combined with the "bug-bitten effect" is what makes it unique. It's difficult to describe the flavor profile accurately. Concubine Tea is also known to vary subtly from brew to brew — which makes logical sense. If you think about it, it's inevitable that each leaf will be affected differently by the Leafhopper. So it really depends on which leaves end up in your teapot on a given day! So take the time to notice the variations from brew to brew. Get familiar with this batch, and learn how to brew it to to the best of your liking. Concubine Tea is by definition unique, from batch to batch and even from brew to brew.
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