Batch 86 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea. But this tea garden in the highest elevations of the Shan Lin Xi tea growing region is an anomaly that dates back to the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945). During this time the Japanese cut down original growth forests in any accessible regions, including this area. This family's ancestor was employed by the Japanese to reforest the area with bamboo and pine trees. In the process, they were given land rights in this region, which allowed them to plant a small plot of tea in an area that is now within a forest park. This is the only tea garden on this mountainside.The surrounding three sides that enclose this ridge are original growth forest.
When we first tasted the recent winter batch of tea from this garden, we were instantly transported back to 30 years ago, when we first experienced High Mountain Tea in 1991. This recent harvest offered the same rich bouquet of vibrant aromatic and flavor notes that initially captivated us, and determined our vocation. That's a much longer story that needs to be told elsewhere, but the tea from this garden revived those early impressions, and promptly inspired us to share it with the Eco-Cha Tea Club.
The guy squinting up at us, and into the intense high elevation sunlight, is the heir to this farm. His dad supervises and still works on the farm and during harvests, but the son is highly motivated, and evidently well trained by his father. The minimal amount tea they produce sells for significantly more than any other source of Shan Lin Xi tea that we've ever heard of on the local scene. A specific example that is testimony to its quality is when we tasted their summer 2022 harvest side by side with a winter batch of Li Shan tea. The producer of the Li Shan tea, our mentor Tony Lin and we all agreed the Shan Lin Xi was better.
Finding this source was simply the result of our regular source of Shan Lin Xi allowing his plot of tea to rest and rejuvenate by not harvesting the winter growth. So we were prompted to put out the word in search of winter tea which happens to be in the area we live. Our neighbor is the cousin of this family, and he introduced us when he learned that we were in search of Shan Lin Xi winter tea. Meeting this family and learning about their tea has renewed our sense of being honored and inspired to represent this local culture and the world-class specialty tea that it produces.
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