Batch 76 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Lalashan Light Roast High Mountain Oolong Tea, winter 2021 harvest. When we tasted the freshly picked and cured tea in the farmer's home, we appreciated the full-bodied, balanced character of it, although it was still slightly "muddled" due to the remaining moisture content in the leaves. This moisture was locked in the stem material — which was plentiful. So we decided to have the stems removed and do a light roasting to bring the leaves to what we perceived as their fullest potential.
Batch 76 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a first for us, in the sense that we have never sourced tea from the Lalashan region before. Lalashan is the northernmost high elevation tea growing area on the island of Taiwan, and has a significantly colder and usually wetter climate than all other regions. Snowfall on Taiwan's High Mountain Tea farms is a rare occasion. In fact, only a small portion of Taiwan tea farms have ever seen snow. We share this image to represent the location and climate in the Lalashan that sets it apart. The photo above was taken in 2016.
Batch 75 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is offered during the month of Lunar New Year, and we expressly chose this tea for the occasion. Ying Xiang Dong Pian Oolong is a fresh, vibrant, full-bodied unroasted Oolong that was harvested at the very end of the growing season. The colder weather during its growing season gives it a distinctive profile that exemplifies the name Dong Pian, or late winter harvest.
Batch 75 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Ying Xiang Dong Pian Oolong Tea from Yong Long Village in Lugu, Taiwan —at 700m elevation. Ying Xiang (迎香) means "Alluring Aroma", and is the name given to Tai Cha #20. This is a relatively recent hybrid tea cultivar introduced by Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station less than 10 years ago, and has slowly but surely gained popularity — especially at mid-elevation tea growing regions.
Batch 74, six plus years of sourcing singular batch teas to share with the Eco-Cha Tea Club each month ... And we find ourselves just sitting and staring at these dried leaves.... Reminding us that we are not at all tired of exploring the world of boutique tea, and sharing our experience of the things we find to be particularly special. This batch of Eco-Farmed GABA Oolong Tea pretty much covers the bases in this respect. It is very small batch, harvested by a family of organic tea farmers that are literally trailblazers in their community. AND, we think they make the best GABA tea we've ever tasted!
Batch 74 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Eco-Farmed GABA Oolong Tea. We coined the termEco-Farmedto represent tea that is sourced from a certified organic tea farm, without representing the certification itself. This farm is not only certified organic, but it is managed with the most natural farming methods we've seen in the local tea industry here in Taiwan. He has pioneered these farming methods, and after 20 years of challenging research, is now successfully managing several plots of tea and producing specialty types of organic tea.
Batch 73 begins our seventh year of the Eco-Cha Tea Club, and we get to celebrate the occasion with a type of tea we've never sourced before. It's a soothing, delicate, yet full-bodied character of tea that combines a classic top quality Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong with fresh Osmanthus flowers. The intrinsically pronounced creamy character of the Alishan Jin Xuan infused with the essence of Osmanthus flowers offers an exceptionally soft and satisfying flavor profile.
Our friend's mom and aunties picked thousands of Osmanthus blooms by hand last month in order to make special batches of flower blended tea. He related how decades ago, when Taiwan High Mountain Tea first became popular, it was often described as having an Osmanthus flower fragrance.
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!
The Lugu competition happens twice a year, in spring and in winter. He prepares dozens of batches of tea for this competition. It's a significant part of his work as a tea merchant. Preparation involves procuring the tea, roasting it repeatedly, and removing the stems and discolored leaves. The roasting is extremely time consuming. He and his wife work around the clock for weeks on end to roast their tea for this competition.
We can see from the brewed leaves above that they resemble an Oolong Tea much more than a Black Tea. The bulk of the leaves still maintain their structural integrity, indicating that they have not been rigorously rolled, like a Black Tea would be. Only a portion of the leaf material was torn and squeezed to expose the sap, resulting in a more thorough oxidation. Most of the leaf material was treated with the skill and tact that an artisan Oolong Tea is made from. We feel that this is a more specialized batch of Hong Oolong in this respect.
Batch 71 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Hong Oolong Tea made by our source of Traditional Dong Ding Oolong as well as our Small Leaf Black Tea. Both of these teas that we regularly procure from this family-run farm are closely related to this month's batch of the Eco-Cha Tea Club. This is the premier batch of Hong Oolong Tea made by this Dong Ding Oolong artisan however, and it exists only because of our encouragement (not nagging!) about trying out a new recipe!