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 65 of theEco-Cha Tea Clubwas initially sourced by our friend for entry into the largest Oolong Tea Competition in the world. The standard of this competition is a medium/heavy roast, so it requires a significant level of oxidation in processing the tea leaves for optimal results. This is where this batch of tea varies most significantly from the market standard of Taiwan's High Mountain Tea. High Mountain Tea is minimally oxidized and unroasted — offering a fresh green character with a floral bouquet. This batch was not only more oxidized, but also delicately roasted to offer a more balanced, sweeter character with fruity and pastry components to compliment the floral notes.
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.
The combination of the cultivar, the late winter growing season, and the processing methods has resulted in a mild character of tea with subtle savory, sweet, and floral notes. It has a substantial mouth feel, and a clean, dry finish that has notes of winter vegetables, such as parsnips and Delicata squash. It's got a soft, balanced, yet substantial flavor profile that can be described as humble. It's not a particularly fragrant or bold character of tea. It simply has substance, along with the essentials of qualifying as a traditionally made Oolong from Lugu, Taiwan.
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.
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 62 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club comes from the same plot of tea as last month's batch. When we tasted this month's batch of unroasted Wuyi Oolong, following the heavily roasted batch that we shared last month, we were inspired to offer these two very different tasting teas back-to-back. Tasting these two batches of tea that were made from basically the same raw produce (different seasonal harvests), but processed differently, provides an educational experience on how significant processing methods are in determining the final product.
We are kicking off our sixth year of the Eco-Cha Tea Club this month, with batch 61! And this month's batch of Heavy Roast Wuyi Oolong is a record breaker in that it is definitely the most thoroughly roasted batch of tea that we have shared to date. We think this tea will be appealing at this time of year — especially for our members who live in colder climates. This is a very hearty, rich, and warming brew. So we like to think it will make the holiday season even cozier!
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 58 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Hong Shui Oolong made in the traditional fashion by our friend in his home factory in Phoenix Village, Taiwan. He let his family plot of tea behind their traditional 3-sided farmhouse continue to grow after spring harvest in April until the last few days in July. This allows the tea trees to rejuvenate by growing naturally during the most vegetative phase of their annual cycle. He then harvested just the tops of the new growth before pruning his trees for fall harvest.
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.