The roasted quality is prominent in the initial aroma coming off the leaves after their first steeping. This smoky, cured character is also evident on the palate, but integrated with a complex dried fruit, caramelized quality that gives it a broad flavor profile. It has a tangy/sweet, bold finish that is particularly satisfying.
The first batch of tea that we shared from this plot of Wuyi tea plants was left unroasted, in the fashion of Taiwan's High Mountain Tea. This one is on the other end of the roasting scale, having undergone 6 roasting sessions in total. After being roasted in conventional modern ovens twice, this batch was handed over to a professional charcoal tea roaster. This is all the guy does: roast tea in woven bamboo baskets, using charcoal made from the Longan fruit tree. He does not let anyone into his workshop, and keeps his traditional secrets to himself, which he has been developing for several decades. He also roasted this year's January batch that we shared with our Eco-Cha Tea Club members, which our members have raved about.
Mr. and Mrs. Chen were lucky to have chosen April 10 for the harvest of the small plot of Jin Xuan they manage for their childhood friend and tea partner. It was sunny and breezy, perfect weather for harvesting spring tea!
This combination of oxidized leaves with slight roasting offers a balanced flavor profile that turns the fresh green quality into a sweeter, softer character that is complex and substantial. Instead of the herbal aroma of an unroasted High Mountain Oolong, there is a balanced, floral/vegetal quality with fresh pastry in the finish. Overall, it is soothing and satisfying in our experience.
Our friend, who is the most successful player we know in Taiwan's tea competitions, sourced 4 batches of tea from this village to be prepared for the winter 2016 competition in the Meishan Farmers' Association. He achieved awards in the Top Place ( top 2%), Gold Medal (top 10%), and Silver Medal (top 16%) categories. This month's Eco-Cha Tea Club batch is a combination of the remainder of tea leaves that achieved Gold and Silver Medal awards in a competition of more than 1000 entries.
This batch of tea was harvested in 2012 and only reached completion of its curing process in 2016. This artisan has taken tea making to another level. These processing and curing methods are unique in that they are an integration of traditional and modern tea making methods that produce a character of tea reminiscent of Muzha Tieguanyin from Northern Taiwan. It is not comparable however, given that the tea types used and the processing methods are quite different. It is simply the character and flavor notes that are experienced in brewing a pot of these tea leaves that bring a traditional Taiwanese Tieguanyin Oolong to mind.
The image above portrays the visual character of the tea being shared in this month's Eco-Cha Tea Club. It's a rich, hearty brew that is both smooth and complex with a heady finish that is specific to an aged Oolong. The bubbles created in the tea pitcher when pouring off the brewed tea indicate that the essential aromatic oils and other key constituents have been preserved and concentrated in the aging process. We are excited to share this rare batch of Wuyi Oolong that was cultivated, cured, and aged at the southern tip of Taiwan in the tiny village of Gangkou, Pingtung County.
This month's batch of Aged Harbor Tea that is being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club comes from the most unique source of tea we've discovered to date. Located along the coast near the southernmost tip of the island, it stands alone both in its story and character. In the image above, Mr. and Mrs. Zhu proudly present their inherited family tradition that they have innovated upon to make a unique type of tea.
Dana Ter, freelance writer and staff reporter for the Features section of the Taipei Times, recently approached Eco-Cha to be a subject of a piece she wrote on Taiwan's artisanal tea culture. We happily cooperated, and responded to her request to visit tea farms in the Taipei area by taking her to meet two tea farmers whom we've befriended in recent years. It turned out to be just what Dana was looking for — tea producers who represent the boutique artisan tea culture in Taiwan.