Batch 81 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a first for us! A very minimal spring yield of organically grown Wuyi cultivar was processed by our source of Tie Guan Yin Oolong in the way that he usually makes tea. He planted his own plot of the Wuyi cultivar about 20 years ago on his family heritage farm in Muzha, Taiwan — but it has not been available to us until this spring. We've procured his Fo Shou Oolong before, but not his Wuyi. So, as we approach the completion of our eighth year of the Tea Club, we are excited to share a batch of tea that we've just sourced for the first time ever!
Batch 81 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Wuyi Tie Guan Oolong from Muzha, Taiwan. It was made from the spring flush of this small, naturally farmed plot of the Wuyi cultivar, and processed in the traditional Muzha Tie Guan Yin fashion by our ongoing source of Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea. This is the first opportunity we've had to procure his Tie Guan Yin Tea made from the Wuyi cultivar. His spring crop produced less than 20 kg of cured leaf. That's literally the smallest batch of Oolong that we've ever heard of!
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!
he climate in the Lishan region is strikingly different from other tea producing regions. At 2000m elevation, and a valley situated in a direction that allows the north-easterly wind patterns to offer drastic diurnal temperature variations — tea leaves produced here are of a different caliber. We are thrilled to be sharing a batch of tea from the area that really is most impressive in terms of its "high mountain" character!
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.
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.
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.
This is what an award winning Wenshan Baozhong Tea looks like, in its dry leaf state, of course. Notice the uniformity in the size and coloration of the leaves. The yellow hues are only in the spine of the leaves, which would naturally protrude into a stem, but the stems have been removed, along with the larger, lighter colored, over-matured leaf stock. This uniformity of leaf material offers a pure flavor profile. It allows for a complexity of aromatic and flavor notes, but it comes from a uniform stock which is essential in producing a purity of character. This is a fundamental aspect of competition grade tea. It's not muddled. It's refined.
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.