Batch 72 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Lugu Competition Dong Ding Oolong Tea that was prepared by our friend who is a top player in Taiwan's tea competitions. Above is his track record showing the highest awards in several different competitions, but most significantly the Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition. Tea prepared in this way to meet the quality standard of this competition is commonly referred to as "Lugu Competition Tea", as Lugu is the home of Dong Ding Oolong Tea.
The numbers that you see within some of the Chinese names of the competitions are the total number of entries in the Lugu competition. So for example, the spring 2018 competition had 6,707 entries in which he was awarded 9th Place. The winter 2018 competition had 6,777 entries in which he won 3rd Place! We actually procured one box of the 3rd Place Prize winning tea and repackaged it into samples to offer people a chance to taste what this competition is about. Below is a photo of this master roaster holding the box of tea we purchased. The stacks of boxes behind him are all the tea that won awards that season.
The Lugu competition happens twice a year, in spring and in winter. He prepares dozens of batches of tea for this competition. It's a significant part of his work as a tea merchant. Preparation involves procuring the tea, roasting it repeatedly, and removing the stems and discolored leaves. The roasting is extremely time consuming. He and his wife work around the clock for weeks on end to roast their tea for this competition.
This batch of spring tea is from the Alishan High Mountain Tea growing region. The leaves were picked while still young and not fully mature. While this stage of leaf growth can be ideal for roasting, it requires a slower, incremental roasting method to effectively remove all moisture from the leaves, and proceed to gently toast them to perfection. After the initial roasting, the master knew that they needed to rest for a while before continuing the roasting process. There was not enough time before the competition teas needed to be submitted to bring this batch to completion. That is how this batch of tea became available to us, rather than being entered into last spring's competition. He waited a couple months before continuing to roast these leaves to degree of the competition standard.
We snapped the shot above on our most recent visit to this family who live only about 20 minutes away from us. The husband and wife team were joined by mom in their preparation of the upcoming winter competition. In addition to the cost of procuring and destemming the leaves by machine, the amount of time and skilled labor that goes into preparing a batch of competition tea is almost unreasonable! Economically speaking, it only really pays off when you win the highest awards — and this family has been quite successful in achieving that!
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