Batch 84 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Red Jade #18 Black Tea from the historical Sun Moon Lake tea growing region of Taiwan. This cultivar, given the name Red Jade (紅玉) is registered as hybrid #18 by Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station. You can learn all about its background in our recentblogpost, but this Black Tea hybrid strain is unique to Taiwan, and was "born" in the 20th century. It has become quite popular over the last 20 years since it was first commercially introduced in the early 2000's.
Batch 83 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Alishan Small Leaf Type Black Tea made by our source of Alishan High Mountain Oolong and Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong. They picked some of their Jin Xuan summer crop when it was still immature. These young tender leaves from the second flush (summer crop) are ideal for making Black Tea. Jin Xuan is the name of Taiwan's most popular hybrid small leaf type 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!
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 #56 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Pinglin Qing Xin Black Tea — summer 2019 harvest, from the same source as last month's edition of award winning Wenshan Baozhong Tea. This is the first batch of Black Tea we have sourced from the Pinglin region in northern Taiwan, and it is further supporting evidence of the fact that high quality tea can be made from low to mid-elevation farms. We were lucky to have sourced the remainder of two consecutive days of last summer's harvest that were combined to provide just enough to be shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club! Black Tea reaches it peak of quality after at least one year of aging.
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.
Eco-Cha Tea Club's batch #48 is Alishan High Mountain Black Tea. It has a very balanced, integrated flavor profile, and offers subtle notes of a Qing Xin Oolong. The brewed leaves still have a greenish hue, even though the stems are quite reddish, indicating nearly full oxidation. It is an interesting hybrid of tea types, but definitely acts more like a Black Tea made from the small leaf type Qing Xin strain.
Batch #48 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Alishan High Mountain Black Tea. Our source of Alishan High Mountain Oolong and Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong makes Black Tea from his summer crop of Qing Xin Oolong tea leaves. The summer crop is actually a bumper crop from their spring harvest. The new leaf growth that was too immature to pick at spring harvest is allowed to continue growing to at least half maturity before it is harvested and processed as Small Leaf Black Tea.
Mr. Xie has been producing significant quantities of GABA Oolong Tea for several years, but this is the first batch of GABA tea that he processed as a Black Tea. After sharing his hand-picked, naturally farmed GABA Oolong that had been aged for a full year last July, we are excited to share this batch that was harvested last June, and aged 9 months. While these time periods do not qualify as "aging" tea, they do allow the composition of the leaves to mellow and offer a richer, more full-bodied character.
After years of honing his GABA tea making skills using Oolong processing methods, Mr. Xie decided to process this harvest as a GABA Black Tea for the first time. The entire harvest amounted to less than 20 kg, and by the time we found out about it, there was barely enough to be shared with our Tea Club members!
In addition to the name of the tea strain, this batch of tea was made by an artisan of Dong Ding Oolong Tea with his family plot of heirloom tea trees. He incorporated Oolong Tea methods in the very first step of solar withering, and the very last step of tightly rolling the tea leaves. So the raw material of the summer crop of heirloom Qing Xin Oolong tea leaves, processed by an Oolong Tea maker by trade offers us this superior quality Black Tea.
We chose the name "Qing Xin Oolong Black Tea" in accordance with the local terminology, which would be simply "Oolong Black Tea" (烏龍紅茶). But because in English, Oolong is the name given to partially oxidized teas, we added the Chinese pinyin of this traditional strain of tea plant that originated in mainland China. Qing Xin literally means "green heart" which describes the appearance of the stem of the leaf.