Batch 68 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Competition Grade Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea that ended up being awarded Third Place Category Prize (top 18%) iby the Muzha Farmers' Association. The above photo symbolizes the distinctive quality of this tea type. Following the initial processing on the day of harvest, where the leaves undergo extensive withering, oxidation, and tumble heating, they are then tightly rolled and dried. During this rolling and drying process, when the leaves are wrapped in cloth into a ball shape, they are gently heated. This, in effect, steams the leaves in their own juices. And this is where Tie Guan Yin derives its distinctly tangy character.
Eco-Cha first met Mr. Zhan in 2016, when we smelled tea being roasted beside the historical train station in Shuili — one of our favorite mountain towns in central Taiwan. We learned that he had been transitioning his family tea farm to natural farming methods for several years already. We said that we looked forward to learning more about his work, and hoped to have the chance to procure some tea! Well, some things take time... and 5 years later, here we are — finally able to share a batch of his tea with the Eco-Cha Tea Club!
Batch 66 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Fo Shou Oolong Tea produced in Pinglin, Taiwan. The Chinese Fo Shou (佛手) means Buddha Hand. The name refers to the tea plant, or cultivar, which classifies as a large leaf type. This puts it in the category of Assam, and wild strains of tea, along with the Taiwanese hybrid cultivar — Red Jade #18.
Batch 65 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was procured by them with the intention of roasting it to the standard of the Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition. It won Second Place Category Award (top 8%) of over 6000 entries. Our batch has only been very delicately roasted — preserving its original fresh character, while balancing out the flavor profile and stabilizing its composition.
Batch 64 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club comes from this family farm/home factory in Phoenix Village, Lugu Township, Taiwan. It's a late winter harvest of their plot of Ying Xiang #20 that was processed in the local fashion. Ying Xiang is a hybrid cultivar developed by Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES) that was made public less than 10 years ago.
With natural farming, the trees mature more slowly, as they must fend for themselves and build immunity to naturally occurring pests without the artificial assistance of chemical farm products. But as our friend from whom we source this tea explained to us today, when the trees eventually develop a stable immunity, they are significantly different in their constitution than conventionally farmed tea trees. And this means the quality of leaf that is harvested from these trees is also notably different.
This batch of tea was harvested last spring, and processed as a medium oxidized Oolong. The stems were then removed in preparation for extensive roasting. Mr. Xie proceeded to roast these leaves four times in total. The first roasting was done in the standard convection type oven to remove all remaining moisture from the leaves. The following 3 roastings were done in an oven designed for roasting coffee beans!
The full flavored character reflects the mastery that evolved from pre-modern tea producing methods — which our friend learned from his grandfather as a teenager. It's a rich, fruity, complex flavor profile with classic mineral notes, and a vibrant, truly satisfying finish. This, this is the real deal when it comes to traditionally made Oolong Tea from Nantou County, Taiwan!
Batch #56 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Black Tea made from the Qing Xin cultivar, grown in the Pinglin tea growing region in northern Taiwan. This Black Tea is made by the same artisan tea maker who made the top 5% award-winning Baozhong Tea we offered as Batch #55 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club. His spring and winter crops are made into Wenshan Baozhong tea, for which his family has a legacy, and his summer crops are made into high-grade Black Tea.
The father, now in his mid-70's, planted a plot of "small leaf Tieguanyin" cultivar on his family land in Yonglong Village, Lugu over 30 years ago. A tea merchant promised to procure this tea on a seasonal basis. He was one of the first to plant this heirloom Tieguanyin strain in central Taiwan. It had previously only been cultivated in northern Taiwan, with deep roots in strains brought from China hundreds of years ago.