Batch 96 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea from the Shan Lin Xi Tea growing region, harvested in fall 2022. This batch of tea was procured by our mentor Lisa Lin, who sources our High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea and roasts it to her liking before offering it to us. Lisa has been a tea maker, a professional tea judge, a teacher of tea art, and has been buying and selling very small amounts of select teas in Lugu since before we met her in 1993. The first time we met, she and her husband Tony Lin were processing their family farm's winter crop of tea in their home factory along with Tony's parents. We never stopped visiting their home since that fateful night!
We introduce Lisa here because we trust her the most when it comes to procuring bug bitten batches of tea to roast and transform into Concubine Oolong Tea. Bug bitten tea is by definition unique — from batch to batch, and even from brew to brew. This is because each tea leaf is affected differently, in terms of the chemical composition that results from the immune system response of the tea tree in reaction to a tiny flying insect called the Green Leafhopper. The leaves have been individually affected more or less by the Green Leafhopper — who is responsible for the magic that happens to create the aromatic and flavor profile of Oriental Beauty and Concubine Oolong Tea.
This spectrum of varying chemical compounds from leaf to leaf and batch to batch makes bug bitten tea a challenging prospect, because the composition of leaf material is not as uniform as a standard batch of leaves. So both the curing of the bug bitten leaves as well as the post production roasting require experience, skill, and luck to produce an exemplary batch. In the end, it simply depends on how an unpredictable batch of tea turns out as result of being treated with intuitive know-how.
The signature flavor profile of bug bitten tea is a particularly bold and complex character that is essentially reminiscent of honey — but it doesn't stop there. It can also include mineral, fruity and floral notes. Add to this a roast factor when the leaves are processed similarly to a Dong Ding Oolong to make Concubine Tea, and there are also roasted yams, toasted grains, and pastry notes. So don't be surprised if you find that you experience different flavors and aromas from brew to brew!
Both the dried and the brewed tea leaves appear uniform. The farmer harvested this crop while it was still young and tender and not yet gone fibrous or woody with maturity. The leaves were also rolled in a relatively traditional manner in that they are not too tightly rolled. This is more conducive to a uniform effect in the roasting. These are all the contributing factors that have participated in the making of this singular batch of High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea. Now, go ahead and watch the tasting video to get the full scoop on how it brews!