This month's edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Competition Grade Wenshan Baozhong Tea made from spring 2022 harvest. This batch won an award in the local competition, although not as prestigious as last spring's entry — which won Top Category Prize (within the top 2 % of all entries). Our friend from whom we source this tea said that the tea judge was a newbie, and it's hard to know how they will rate the teas.
Batch 78 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea harvested in April 2022. What makes this tea type different from our standard offering of Ding Ding Oolong is that the traditional version is significantly more oxidized and left unroasted. This is how it was made by the local artisans prior to its commercial promotion that began some 40 years ago.
The figure in the foreground of the photo above is the matriarch of this family of Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea makers. This pic was snapped a few years ago, and she is now in her late eighties, so she is not the tea picking queen she once was, but she is as talkative and friendly as ever!
Shown above is the father, son and uncle facilitating a harvest from this new plot of tea a few years ago. It's just this type of local scene that is the heart of our inspiration. This is what it's all about!
Batch 72 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Lugu Competition Dong Ding Oolong Tea. This tea type is one of the top three most famous Taiwan Teas and was prepared for one of the largest and most prestigious Oolong Tea competitions in the world. So we thought it's representing as a specialty Taiwanese Tea!
Batch 69 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was originally meant to be entered into Taiwan's National Organic Tea Competition. This competition was just established last year, in an effort to support organic tea farmers, and create more of a market presence for organic tea among Taiwanese tea lovers. This year's competition was cancelled due to COVID related restrictions, hence we were able to procure this batch of Organic Competition Grade Oolong Tea! Oh, and last year this husband and wife team received a Silver Medal Award (second place category) in this same competition!
Batch 68 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is represents one of Taiwan's most distinctive tea types. It has a bold, mature character that is not easily mistaken for any other type of Taiwan Oolong Tea. It has a medium/heavy level of oxidation, and a heavy roast level. It is both mellow and complex. It has a rich, smoky, woody character complemented by a tangy, fruity quality.
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.
Batch 63 of theEco-Cha Tea Clubwas harvested in November 2020, processed, and then sorted to remove stem material and any discolored leaves in preparation for the winter 2020 competition and the New Taipei City Farmers's Association.
The distinctive quality of Baozhong Tea is that the leaves are shuffled well to induce uniform oxidation, but they are only minimally rolled. This keeps their physical composition in tact. The leaves are not damaged by pressure rolling. This locks in a fresh, green quality that put Baozhong Tea in a category of its own.
Upon arrival, we were immediately led to the tasting table where there were two bowls of brewed tea leaves on the tea tray with less than 30mL of cold tea in each. We were ordered to taste them without any introduction to what they were. We immediately recognized them as freshly produced Baozhong Tea of high quality, but there was only enough left for two small sips. After first sip, we were told that one of them was much more expensive than the other, and then asked which one we liked. We took the second sip and picked one, saying that it was a bit more fragrant, and were met with a scowl and a sigh. It was the most honest facial expression we've seen in ages. The expression above was probably 10 minutes after that moment, but still holds some of the humor and angst!
Batch 57 of the Eco Cha Tea Club is a Top Award winning tea that was entered into the spring 2020 Nantou County Tea Trade Association's Dong Ding (Ton Tin) Cui Yu Oolong Tea competition. This association focuses on promoting tea production in lower elevation regions, namely Zhushan and Mingjian Townships in southern Nantou County. These towns are at the foot of the mountain below Lugu Township and the Shan Lin Xi high mountain tea growing region. Zhushan and Mingjian, along with Lugu are home to the densest population of tea makers in Taiwan.
Batch #55 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an award-winning Wenshan Baozhong Tea that was entered in the recent spring tea competition of the local Farmers' Association. Preparation for competition involves removing the bulkier stems from the leaves, and also sorting the leaves by coloration to achieve the most uniform stock of leaf material possible.