Batch 85 kicks off our eighth year running of the Eco-Cha Tea Club, and we are celebrating with Mr. Lin's seventh winter harvest from his certified organic tea farm. You can learn all about our connection to this tea farmer and his work in our sourcing blogpost.
We met Mr. Lin the same year he applied for organic certification of his newly planted tea farm. We followed him through this certification process, and procured the entire winter crop from his inaugural harvest. Seven years later, we are now sharing his tea again — winter harvest 2022. We coined the term "Eco-Farmed" to designate tea from certified organic farms, while not representing the organic certification itself.
To the Oolong Tea artisan's eye, the dried leaves above clearly portray a more traditional method of rolling, in that Mr. Lin is committed to not allowing a compacting machine in his factory. This means that the leaves are rolled and dried in a much more labor intensive process. The result is that the leaves are less — well, compact! They are more oblong-shaped, and are not crumpled in upon themselves.The stem material is not mangled and wrapped within the leaf material. This is what traditionally made Oolong Tea leaves look like.
The original plot of tea that Mr. and Mrs. Lin planted on their repurposed fruit farm was a relatively new strain on the local scene at that time: Ying Xiang Tai Cha #20. Ying Xiang ( trans. "Alluring Fragrance") was created by Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station, and promoted for its distinctive aromatic profile and its ability to endure dry spells as well as cold spells. The Lin's plot of organically farmed Ying Xiang struggled through the first few years of life, and many trees perished, but for the most part it survived and is now a healthy organic tea garden. They replanted with other strains, namely Qing Xin Da Pan (a.k.a. Da Mao) and Jin Xuan Tai Cha #12. So now his crops of tea are mostly Ying Xiang with two other strains making up a smaller portion of each batch. This mix of cultivars has enhanced the character of the Lin's tea, and given it more substance overall.
Mr. Lin roasted these leaves only once, but with significant results. The roast is mostly evident in the aromatic profile, with toasted grains, freshly cut wood, and perhaps buckwheat fragrance. The palate has a balanced, smooth mouthfeel, and an underlying bitter quality that makes the flavor notes of seared vegetables and toasted grains pop. It's a complex and wholesome character that keeps you imagining what that flavor note is!
We are so grateful and honored to be involved with this culture and be celebrating this seventh year anniversary of our friend's organic tea farm on the land where he was born. Watch the tasting video for the full details AND scenes from the documentary we made seven years ago!
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